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JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 


j,  j , 


JAMES  JOHN 
GARTH   WILKINSON; 

A  MEMOIR  OF  HIS  LIFE,  WITH  A 
SELECTION  FROM  HIS  LETTERS; 


BY 


CLEMENT  JOHN  WILKINSON. 


"  The  things  which  are  seen  are  temporal : 
the  things  which  are  not  seen  are  eternal." 


LONDON 
KEGAN  PAUL,  TRENCH,  TRUBNER  &  CO.,  LTD. 

DRYDKN  HOUSE,  43  GERRARD  STREET,  W. 
1911 


'is- 


CONTENTS 


CHAPTER  I 

PAGE 

BIOGRAPHY  1 


CHAPTER  II 

THE    SWEDENBORGIAN          .  .  .  .  .152 

CHAPTER  III 

HOMOEOPATHY       AND      KINDRED      DEBATABLE 

MATTERS  ......     243 

CHAPTER  IV 

APPRECIATIONS 284 

INDEX  .         .     801 


492951 


JAMES  JOHN 
GARTH  WILKINSON 


CHAPTER  I 

BIOGRAPHY 

THE  following  fragment  of  autobiography  was  written 
by  Dr  Wilkinson  in  1872,  but  the  task  unfortunately 
was  abandoned  or  postponed. 

James  John  Garth  Wilkinson  was  born  in  Acton 
Street,  Gray's  Inn  Lane,  London,  on  the  3rd  of  June 
1812 ;  the  eldest  of  the  family  of  James  John 
and  Harriet  Wilkinson ;  his  father  of  Durham, 
his  mother  of  Sunderland.1  His  childhood  was  for 
the  most  part  spent  in  that  neighbourhood,  and  he 
played  in  the  urban  fields  in  which  Acton  Street 
at  that  time  ended. 

1  He  was  the  eldest  of  eight  children  born  to  his  parents.  His 
father  came  ultimately  of  Danish  stock,  and  descended  from  a 
professional  family,  whose  arms  (originally  granted  to  one  Lawrence 
Wilkinson  in  1615)  still  figure  in  the  Town  Hall  of  the  City  of 
Durham.  John  James  Wilkinson  was  a  Special  Pleader,  and  in 
that  capacity  numbered  at  one  time  five  Judges  among  his  former 
pupils  ;  he  was  also  for  many  years  himself  Judge  of  the  Palatine 
County  Court  in  his  native  city,  holding  his  jurisdiction  from  the 
Prince  Bishops  of  that  day.  Mrs  Wilkinson,  nee  Robinson,  had 
among  her  ancestors  the  Penn  family,  whence  spring  the  founder 
of  Pennsylvania. 

1 


S         JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

Notwithstanding  the  care  of  a  tender  mother,  his 
childhood  was  full  of  dark  shadows,  partly  from  his 
own  nature,  partly  arising  from  those  around  him. 
From  his  earliest  recollection  the  thought  of  death 
pursued  him  ;  chiefly  the  thought  of  the  dead,  which 
had  been  wrought  into  the  fears  excited  by  the 
horrible   tales   told   him    by    the   servants.    These 
fears  grew  with  his  growth,  and  the  anticipation 
of  the  darkness  of  night  made  the  days  wretched. 
This  dread  is  the  chief  recollection  of  the  days  next 
to  infancy.     He  was  always  afraid  in  his  little  walks 
of  seeing  some  dead  body  carried  in  the  streets. 
Opposite  the  window  in  Acton  Street,  in  an  enclosed 
field,    there    were   fresh    ox-skins    hanging ;     these 
made   a   terrible   impression   for   long.     And   once, 
in  a  journey  to  Sunderland  by  coach,  among  some 
nettles    at   the   back    of    the  hotel,   he   thinks   at 
Grantham,  he  encountered  a  dead  rat,  and  fell  in 
fear  among  the  nettles  ;  and  was  found,  and  brought 
to  the  coach.     As  time  went  on,  the  craving  thought 
of  the  day  was,  how  long  the  piece  of  candle  allowed 
to  go  to  sleep  by  should  be.     He  generally  outwatched 
the   longest   pieces,    buried   under   the   bedclothes. 
He  was  weak  and  ailing  through  his  childhood. 

From  a  dear  religious  mother  he  got  no  consolation  ; 
nothing  that  took  away  superstitious  terrors,  or 
reconciled  death  with  nature.  His  grandmother, 
Mrs  Robinson  of  Sunderland,  and  his  aunt,  Mary 
Robinson,  did  their  best  to  answer  his  questions, 


BIOGRAPHY  3 

but  the  grave  and  its  belongings  were  not  to  be 
disposed  of.  The  horrors  instilled  into  his  mind 
by  servants  reigned  supreme.  Beyond  the  coffin 
and  the  vault  no  tale  reached  home  to  his  heart. 

The  second  woe  of  Acton  Street  was  the  parting 
from  home  in  the  morning  to  go  to  day-school 
in  Gray's  Inn  Lane.  It  was  an  overwhelming 
sorrow,  and  lasted  more  or  less  all  his  schooldays. 
The  contrast  between  grandmother  and  aunt  and 
the  rest  of  the  world  was  unspeakably  great  and 
painful.  And  his  shame  was  excessive  at  the  red  eyes 
which  he  took  to  school.  The  fear  of  the  red  eyes 
was  the  chief  handle  that  could  be  used  to  quiet  him. 

These  are  the  main  points  remembered  :  early 
affections  tender,  and  reared  in  a  hothouse  to  boot ; 
and  ghastly  and  ghostly  fears  from  within  and  from 
without.  One  other  recollection. 

As  a  child  he  had  a  fatal  facility  of  picking  up  bad 
words  from  the  boys  in  the  street,  without  in  the 
least  taking  their  meaning ;  and  the  occasional 
repetition  of  these  at  home  entailed  upon  him 
severe  punishment,  sometimes  exclusion  from  the 
family  for  several  days.  He  remembers  the  bitter- 
ness of  his  mother  coming  into  the  little  front  parlour 
where  he  was  confined  with  the  servant,  and  not 
speaking  to  him,  or  allowing  him  to  speak,  because 
he  had  been  wicked  with  his  tongue.  The  remem- 
brance, which  may  be  a  mistake,  is  as  of  a  long 
period  of  durance. 


4         JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

He  must  have  had  pleasures  during  this  period 
of  his  life ;  but  he  does  not  recall  them.  For  the 
rest,  the  circumstances  remembered  were  poor 
enough,  and  the  home  comforts,  and  the  home  sweet- 
ness and  cleanliness  were  far  below  what  nurseries 
and  children  of  the  middle  class  at  this  day  enjoy. 
Little  eyes  and  noses  are  critical,  and  lay  up  as 
memories  the  smells  and  sights  that  are  not  proper, 
and  protest  against  them  inwardly,  even  though 
they  have  had  no  other  experience  to  go  by. 

During  these  years  he  was  taken  to  Sunderland 
by  his  aunt  and  grandmother,  and  well  remembers 
the  start  in  the  coach  from  the  great  inn-yard, 
name  forgotten  (Saracen's  Head  ?),  near  Holborn 
Hill.  There  were  boys  going  to  a  Yorkshire  school 
as  inside  passengers,  and  when  they  had  cried 
themselves  to  sleep,  they  slid  down  to  the  bottom 
of  the  coach.  At  Islington,  passing  the  sheep  pens 
there,  he  looked  out,  and  asked  if  it  was  Sunderland. 
The  journey  for  two  or  three  days  and  nights  con- 
tinuously was  a  new  world,  and  he  remembers  hill 
and  dale,  kind  gentlemen  on  the  way,  the  Yorkshire 
mountains  in  the  right  hand  distance,  tender  interest 
in  the  little  Yorkshire  schoolboys,  and  on  the  last 
morning,  the  low  stone  walls  on  entering  Sunder- 
land, and  then  great  aunt  Maria  Blakiston  running 
by  the  coach- side  for  some  distance  before  the  coach 
reached  its  destination. 

He  does  not  know  if  this  was  his  only  early  visit 


BIOGRAPHY  5 

to  Sunderland ;  but  if  it  was  he  might  be  seven 
years  old,  and  he  spent  a  year  with  his  aunt  and 
grandmother  in  the  North. 

But  he  is  probably  anticipating.  Before  the  year 
in  Sunderland  the  family  removed  from  Acton 
Street  to  a  better  house  in  the  New  Road,  No.  8 
Seymour  Place,  opposite  to  where  New  St  Pancras 
Church  now  stands,  but  which  at  that  time  was  a 
region  of  nursery  gardens,  extending  nearly  from 
Battle  Bridge  (now  King's  Cross)  to  Tottenham 
Court  Road.  Here  he  remembers  some  of  the 
births  of  his  brothers  and  sisters.  He  now  went 
to  school  to  the  Misses  Norgate  in  Burton  Street,  and 
for  the  first  time,  as  it  appears,  had  other  children 
for  friends  and  companions.  He  calls  to  mind 
no  learning,  but  friendly  schoolroom  battles,  side 
against  side,  in  which  the  little  combatants  rushed 
shouting  at  each  other,  and  the  shock  was  glorious 
to  relate  at  home.  One  incident  fixed  itself,  and 
was  not  understood.  A  governess  in  Miss  Norgate's 
school  in  a  fit  of  anger  cut  off  all  her  own  hair. 

Next  he  went  to  school  to  Miss  Grover,  living 
in  a  street  off  Euston  Square,  whose  father  was 
Master  of  the  St  Pancras  National  Schools.  Some- 
times his  father  took  him  and  his  brother  William 
on  Sunday  after  church  to  the  National  School, 
and  placed  them  in  class  there,  and  he  felt  surprise 
and  sense  of  power  in  the  multitude  of  boys  assembled. 
At  Miss  Grover's  for  the  first  time  he  began  to  learn, 


6         JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

and  to  like  learning  ;  and  at  the  end  of  one  half  year 
he  received  for  prize  a  silver  pencil  case  which  then, 
as  now,  was  like  no  other  silver  pencil  case.  It 
can  be  recollected  without  an  effort,  which  is  not 
the  case  with  others.  Miss  Grover  was  a  neat, 
trim,  kind  young  lady,  both  precise  and  persuasive, 
and  he  well  remembers  the  sweetness  of  her  influence  ; 
he  saw  her  the  day  before  her  death  a  year  or  two 
ago,  still  fine,  trim  and  sweet,  unspoilt  by  her  passage 
through  the  world,  and  little  changed  by  her  clean 
old  age. 

All  this  time  the  ghastly  fears  went  on,  and  dreams, 
nothing  in  themselves,  influenced  the  years.  One 
dream  was  full  of  mortality.  It  was  a  dream  of  a 
procession  of  swans,  a  funeral  procession,  as  it  were, 
walking  funereal  plumes,  coming  down  the  New  Road, 
and  entering  a  great  vaulted  cathedral  with  tombs 
around.  The  spirit  of  death  was  strong  in  the  dream. 
Another  experience  of  sleep  was  not  a  dream  but  a 
sensation  as  of  infinity  in  the  substance  of  the 
brain ;  a  feeling  of  the  sands  of  infinity ;  from 
what  he  now  knows  a  kind  of  anatomical  feeling 
of  the  pulp  of  the  brain  itself  acted  upon  by  some 
subtle  overwhelming  influence,  which  gave  no  pain, 
but  was  soft,  smooth,  and  horrible  to  bear  and  to 
remember.  It  occurred  now  and  then,  and  he 
generally  woke  with  it,  for  if  it  had  lasted  it  seemed 
as  if  it  must  destroy  him.  In  his  waking  hours 
about  this  time,  once  for  several  days,  he  had  the 


BIOGRAPHY  7 

impression  of  having  committed  the  sin  against 
the  Holy  Ghost,  and  the  misery  of  being  inconsolable 
by  his  dear  mother,  aunt,  and  grandmother,  of  being 
beyond  their  kind  boundaries  in  his  thought,  was 
bewildering.  This  state  soon  passed  away  under 
their  kind  ministrations. 

Another  strange  thing  was  that  being  for  his  age  a 
good  penman — the  pencil  case,  he  thinks,  was  for  pen- 
manship— he  wrote  on  ruled  lines  in  a  little  book 
prayers  to  the  Devil,  full  of  bad  words  ;  he  felt 
powerfully  moved  to  write  them,  and  a  sense  of 
independence  in  the  act.  These  peculiarities  are 
nearly  all  that  stands  out  at  this  time.  The  fatal 
swans,  the  smooth  horror  rolling  in  his  head  during 
sleep,  the  despair  of  unpardonable  sin,  and  the  doing 
what  he  liked  in  the  prayers  to  the  wicked  one. 
Straws  of  influences  and  nothing  more,  but  they 
seemed  then  as  now  to  belong  to  the  life  of  life. 

Probably  he  was  taken  from  Miss  Grover's  ex- 
cellent eye,  to  make  the  journey  to  Sunderland 
already  mentioned.  The  year  passed  in  the  North 
was  the  first  year  of  remembered  pleasures ;  the 
aunt  and  grandmother  were  at  Sunderland,  and  he 
was  their  boy.  He  was  there  placed  at  school,  and 
being  an  exceedingly  timid  and  shamefaced  boy,  he 
held  his  own  with  great  difficulty  among  other  boys  ; 
they  perceived  his  want  of  resistance,  and  invaded 
it,  as  boys  do  by  their  law  of  pressure,  without  mercy. 
He  recollects  learning  nothing  but  the  multiplication 


8         JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

table  ;  with  one  horrible  exception,  dancing.  Having 
no  ear  for  music,  and  unbounded  shame  about  his 
own  person,  utter  absence  of  ease  or  pleasure  even  in 
the  movement  of  walking  before  others,  dancing  was 
a  degradation  unspeakable.  It  revolted  him.  The 
fear  of  being  let  into  it  made  it  impossible  to  get  him 
to  children's  parties,  where  it  might  occur,  and  where 
also  games  of  forfeits  in  which  some  penalty  of  action, 
such  as  kneeling  in  the  middle  of  a  room,  might  be 
demanded  of  him.  His  greatest  trial  in  Sunderland 
was  the  ball  of  the  dancing  school  at  the  Assembly 
Rooms,  round  which  were  ranged  parents  and  friends 
in  appalling  numbers.  He  had  to  take  part  in  one 
dance,  and  his  face,  and  body,  and  arms,  and  legs 
were  all  made  of  shame ;  he  just  lived  through  it. 
No  one  knew  what  it  cost,  or  how  little  his  degrada- 
tion of  nature  could  be  consoled  or  reached  from 
without.  The  deepest  depth  of  it  all  was  that  in  the 
whole  matter  he  was  in  partnership,  forced  partner- 
ship, with  little  girls,  who  were  beings  he  could  not 
understand ;  he  was  so  ashamed  of  them  and  of 
himself.  He  is  not  quite  sure  that  the  "  soft  smooth 
horror  "  of  his  sleep  was  not  the  spirit  of  all  these 
shames  ;  the  gulf  by  which  they  got  into  his  brains. 
But  he  had  also  more  boyish  experiences  in  the 
North,  and  occasionally  took  part  with  the  rough 
lads  of  whom  the  school  consisted  in  raids  and  forays 
in  the  town.  The  sense  of  the  power  of  gathered 
boys,  their  numbers,  their  mighty  shouting,  excited 


BIOGRAPHY  9 

and  delighted  him.  It  was  as  a  unit,  when  eyes 
seemed  turned  on  him,  that  his  weakness  came. 

At  holiday  times,  and  on  half  holidays,  he  used  to 
go  to  Ryhope,  to  his  grandmother's  cottage  there, 
where  he  was  completely  happy.  The  milk-boys  on 
donkeys,  seated  between  two  barrels  of  milk,  came 
in  from  Ryhope  to  Sunderland,  and,  whenever  he 
was  permitted,  he  rode  back  with  Jemmy  Bone,  the 
son  of  his  grandmother's  tenant,  between  the  empty 
barrels,  and  spent  the  night  at  dear  Ryhope.  The 
farmyard,  the  granary,  the  straw-loft,  the  little 
garden  full  of  gooseberry  bushes  with  a  high  stone 
wall  round  it,  Ryhope  pond,  the  largest  inland  water 
he  had  seen,  a  long  strip  of  water  deeply  and 
mysteriously  abutting  on  fenced  fields,  mysteriously 
because  who  could  imagine  the  depth  there,  and  with 
many  swallows  playing  over  it,  all  these  were  adequate 
blessings  to  his  childhood.  The  road  through  a  gate 
of  whale  jaw-bones  along  beautiful  lanes  to  the 
Tunstall  Hills,  to  a  small  property  of  his  father's 
called  Holichar  Sides ;  the  walk  to  Ryhope  Dean, 
the  most  romantic  spot  he  had  then  seen,  and  the 
little  village  of  Seaham ;  and  the  path  from  the 
bottom  of  the  village  of  Ryhope  to  the  sea,  are  still 
his  most  precious  memories  of  scenery. 

The  picnic  of  picnics  happened  to  him  in  this  year  ; 
his  father  was  at  Sunderland,  and  a  large  party  of 
ladies  and  gentlemen  went  along  the  coast  towards 
Castle  Eden  in  a  covered  van ;  a  merry  and  uproarious 


10        JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

party.  At  the  destination  he  strayed  away  among 
the  fells,  and  there  found  mountain  bushes,  junipers, 
and  other  plants  of  such  regions,  which  were  as  parts 
of  a  new  world  to  him.  And  on  the  same  day  in  a 
rocky  cove  he  came  upon  a  moored  boat,  and  got 
into  it,  when  it  went  out  to  sea  to  the  length  of  its 
rope,  and  the  situation,  with  its  beauty  of  clear  depth 
of  water,  seemed  and  always  will  seem  the  beginning 
of  adventure.  The  number  of  new  things  in  the 
world  this  day,  and  the  largeness  of  them,  surprised 
him.  He  found  to  his  inexpressible  satisfaction  that 
there  were  such  places  as  wilds.  It  was  like  being 
let  into  a  large  property  which  made  the  former 
poverty  apparent. 

This  day  stands  out.  And  also  in  this  year  another 
of  the  Bones,  in  the  summer  evenings,  used  to  take 
his  gun,  and  go  out  with  the  boy  to  shoot  small  birds 
in  the  hedges  ;  "  yellow  yowlies  "  sometimes,  and 
even  blackbirds.  His  delight  in  a  gun  was  very 
great ;  it  was  the  most  beautiful  of  objects,  the 
possession  of  it  betokening  manhood.  He  was  fond 
to  a  degree  of  having  and  admiring  the  dead  birds  ; 
he  loved  them,  and  had  no  idea  of  wrong  done  them  ; 
and  though  he  knew  they  were  killed,  he  had  never 
been  told  there  was  inhuman  cruelty  in  the  act,  and 
so  he  loved  to  see  them  shot,  and  loved  them  after- 
wards. The  passion  for  a  gun  went  all  through  his 
boyhood,  though  he  had  none  of  the  physical 
faculties  which  make  a  sportsman.  It  was  the  first 


BIOGRAPHY  11 

romance  of  the  power  of  skilful  destruction  ;  the 
penetration  with  this  into  beautiful  parts  of  nature  ; 
and  the  possession  of  the  coy  birds  unwilling  to  be 
acquired.  There  must  have  been  a  good  many 
young  passions  in  it  or  it  could  not  have  been  so 
fascinating. 

These  small  pieces  of  memory  are  nearly  all  that 
survives  of  this  delightful  year,  in  which  he  was  sur- 
rounded by  grandmother  and  aunts  and  great  aunts, 
and  at  home  as  he  had  never  been  before.  One  dear 
old  friend  of  the  family,  Miss  Ridley,  of  Villiers 
Street,  Sunderland,  was  equal  to  any  of  his  relations 
in  her  kindness,  and  the  jargonel  pear-tree  in  her 
garden  was  a  part  of  her  sweetness.  Old  Molly  and 
younger  Betty,  her  servants,  were  among  his  best 
kindred,  and  they  so  conceited  him  that  he  used  to 
deliver  long  and  loud  addresses  caught  from  the  scant 
politics  of  the  parlour,  from  the  kitchen  dresser.  He 
thinks  they  were  either  for  or  against  Queen  Caroline ; 
but  that  is  doubtful.  No  stream  of  this  public 
speaking  has  entered  into  his  later  life.  He  was 
evidently  a  very  timid,  shamefaced  boy,  with  strong 
feelings  and  vivid  words  when  they  dared  to  come  out; 
and  very  very  ignorant  of  control  except  by  timidity, 
and  of  the  consequences  to  himself  or  others  when  he 
let  his  passions  and  actions  go  free. 

His  maternal  great  granny  died  when  he  was  at 
Sunderland,  and  this  fed  his  fear  of  death,  which 
otherwise  abated  during  this  year,  because  grand- 


12       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

mother  or  aunt  were  always  near  him,  awake  and 
asleep.  He  could  not  be  got  into  the  house  where 
his  good  old  ancestor's  body  lay. 

At  last  a  strange  morning  came  at  Ryhope,  a 
morning  known  for  some  time  to  be  coming.  He 
was  to  go  back  to  his  parents  in  London.  That 
morning  he  was  indulged  with  loving  indulgence, 
and  granny  and  Aunt  Mary  were  with  him  heart  and 
soul  to  the  last.  He  plucked  a  blue  Iris  bud — I  see 
it  now — from  the  little  front  garden  of  the  cottage ; 
and  then  the  coach  from  Sunderland  to  London 
stopped  at  the  gate ;  he  was  given  into  some  old 
gentleman's  charge,  and  he  remembers  nothing 
more  but  that  he  commended  him  for  the  journey, 
guarded  his  lily  for  him,  and  I  suppose  took  him 
home  to  Seymour  Place.  He  does  not  recall  the 
meeting  at  home,  in  which  he  sank  into  one  of  several ; 
his  mother  was  ever  dear  and  warm;  but  his  aunt 
and  granny  had  become  his  mother. 

Shortly  after  this  he  met  his  brother,  William 
Martin  Wilkinson ;  he  was  staying  in  the  country,  I 
think  at  Perry  Hill,  and  he  was  taken  thither ;  the 
meeting  was  in  a  field.  He  had  looked  forward  to  it 
ignorantly  but  with  desire ;  and  when  they  had 
rushed  into  each  other's  arms,  he  was  amazed  that 
he  could  not  speak,  and  was  crying.  It  struck  him 
as  so  odd  that  he  was  crying,  and  yet  so  happy  to 
have  his  brother. 

He  might  now  be  about  nine  years  old,  and  there 


BIOGRAPHY  13 

were  four  or  five  sisters  and  brothers  of  them  at 
home. 

Here  the  fragment  of  autobiography  comes  to  an 
end,  before  the  middle  of  that  period  in  each  life 
which  is  particularly  sparse  of  preserved  details. 
It  does  not  present  a  picture  of  happy  childhood ; 
without  indicating  anything  morbid  in  the  child,  it 
suggests  self-analysis  and  introspection,  though  these 
qualities  were  in  reality  perhaps  the  thoughts  of 
adult  life  unconsciously  transferred  back  to  the  events 
and  times  which  they  concerned. 

It  must  have  been  soon  after  his  return  from 
Sunderland  that  the  boy  was  sent  a  large  private 
school  at  Mill  Hill,  kept  by  Messrs  Thorowgood  and 
Wood,  who  moved,  during  his  pupilage,  to  Totteridge 
in  Hertfordshire.  The  few  letters  of  this  date  which 
have  been  preserved  are  mainly  interesting  by  reason 
of  requests  for  books  from  home.  The  boy  thanks 
his  father  for  having  sent  him  Milton's  poems.  "  I 
am  sorry  to  say  that  Mr  Thorowgood  opened  the 
parcel  and  took  "  Roderick  Random  "  away,  because 
he  did  not  think  it  proper  for  me  to  read."  He  asks 
at  various  times  for  Seele's  "  Analysis  of  the  Greek 
Metres,"  Anacreon's  odes,  "  The  Lady  of  the  Lake," 
"The  Lay  of  the  Last  Minstrel,"  Campbell's 
"Theodoric"  and  "The  Pleasures  of  Hope,"  also 
for  Sir  William  Jones'  poems.  He  is  taking  in  Lord 
Byron's  poems  as  they  appeared  in  serial  numbers, 
and  speaks  of  spending  some  of  the  money  which  he 


14       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

brought  with  him  in  books.  In  1826  he  gained  a 
prize  for  a  poem  of  one  hundred  and  sixty  lines  upon 
"  Babylon,"  and  copies  out  all  but  sixteen  lines, 
"  which  were  no  great  beauty  to  it,"  for  his  father. 
This  success  justifies  the  requests  for  poets  and  gives 
evidence  of  some  early  taste  for  versification,  interest- 
ing in  view  of  his  later  production  of  Improvisations 
of  the  Spirit.  He  appears  to  have  had  some  dealings 
with  chemicals,  as  he  was  fined  for  burning  his  coat 
with  sulphuric  acid.  He  lost  his  mother  in  1825. 
His  frequent  and  long  visits  to  his  grandmother  and 
aunts  at  Ryhope,  had  made  him  little  of  a  "  mother's 
boy,"  but  her  early  death  practically  ended  Garth 
Wilkinson's  knowledge  of  home  life  until  he  made  a 
home  for  himself  on  his  marriage.  He  left  Totteridge 
with  a  very  favourable  report  in  1829.  He  main- 
tained a  friendship  with  Mr  Thorowgood  until  the 
death  of  that  gentleman  in  1860.  On  parting  with 
his  pupil,  Mr  Thorowgood  said  :  "  Now  mind  you, 
you  keep  up  your  Latin,  you'll  want  it,"  a  prophetic 
remark  to  one  who  was  to  spend  much  labour  in 
translating  the  Latin  of  Swedenborg. 

The  boy  was  now  sixteen,  and  had  probably  made 
as  good  progress  in  classics  and  English  literature 
as  could  be  expected  from  one  of  his  years.  The 
time  had  come  for  him  to  choose  a  career.  "  Now, 
James,  I  want  you  to  choose  your  profession,"  said 
his  father.  "  I  want  to  be  a  lawyer,"  the  boy 
answered.  "  I  don't  think  that  would  suit  you," 


BIOGRAPHY  15 

was  the  reply.  "  I  have  already  made  arrangements 
for  you  to  be  with  Mr  Leighton  at  Newcastle,  to 
be  a  surgeon."  The  advice  of  parents  was  apt 
to  be  peremptory  in  1829 ;  but  the  medical  pro- 
fession specially  demands  self-devotion  and  aptitude  ; 
and  it  cannot  be  regarded  as  anything  but  a  dangerous 
experiment  to  throw  a  young  and  sensitive  lad  on 
to  its  avenues  not  only  without,  but  even  against, 
his  expressed  wishes. 

Thomas  Leighton  was  senior  surgeon  to  the 
Infirmary  of  Newcastle-on-Tyne.  The  bond  for 
the  performance  of  covenants,  etc.,  set  forth  in  an 
Indenture  of  Apprenticeship,  was  signed  by  Mr 
Wilkinson,  senior,  on  June  4,  1828,  that  being, 
as  it  happened,  the  day  following  Garth  Wilkinson's 
sixteenth  birthday. 

His  experience  as  a  medical  student,  under 
apprenticeship  and  in  hospital,  was  almost  contem- 
porary with  those  of  Albert  Smith's  "  Mr  Ledbury  " 
and  Dickens'  Bob  Sawyer  and  Ben  Allen.  He 
has  left  no  details  of  them ;  but  it  is  plain  that, 
as  the  pupil  of  a  senior  surgeon  to  one  of  the  best 
of  the  provincial  hospitals,  he  would  act  as  his 
master's  "  dresser  "  and  be  brought  into  practical 
contact  with  such  surgical  work  as  was  done  in  those 
pre-antiseptic  and  pre-ansesthetic  days ;  his  other 
duties  consisted,  no  doubt,  of  drug- compounding 
and  of  bleeding,  and  otherwise  treating  those  whom 
his  master  could  delegate  to  a  pupil.  Whatever  he 


16       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

saw  and  did  at  this  time,  and  for  long  afterwards, 
had  little  effect  in  reconciling  the  child  who  suffered 
daily  and  nightly  terrors  over  the  apparatus  and 
mystery  of  death  to  the  practice  of  surgery  or 
medicine  as  boy  or  man.1  Wilkinson,  as  he  himself 
said,  at  a  much  later  date,  was  "  schooled  to  bear 
a  dresser's  part  in  the  wards  and  in  the  operations 
known  and  practised  in  that  day,  but  hated  them. 
He  knows  what  surgery  means.  From  his  very  entry 
into  the  shop  of  the  Old  Way,  he  never  believed  in 
the  good  or  truth  of  promiscuous  drugging."  It 
was  not  until  many  years  afterwards,  when  he  had 
embraced  Homoeopathy,  that  he  could  say  that 
"  he  loves  the  healing  art  of  which  Homoeopathy  is 
the  present  crown,"  or  that  he  could  write  : 2— 

"  What  is  best,  I  take  a  leading  interest  in  my 
dear  Medicine,  and  especially  in  Homoeopathy,  and  I 
reckon  myself  truly  fortunate  to  be  able  at  length 
to  connect  my  mind  to  my  daily  work ;  and  to  see 
in  the  latter  a  most  ample  field  for  the  exercise  of 
my  thoughts." 

But  the  routine  education  of  an  unwilling  pupil 
left  him  ever  hostile  to  the  Profession  into  which 
it  introduced  him.  Swedenborg  prepared  him 


1  Some  idea  of  the  disgust  which  the  hospital  routine  of  the  early 
nineteenth  century  inspired  in  one  who  was  destined  to  become  a 
surgeon  of  world-wide  reputation,  can  be  gathered  from  Syme's 
Address  on  Surgery,  delivered  before  the  British  Medical  Association 
in  1865. 

8  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  James,  November  14,  1852. 


BIOGRAPHY  17 

for  Homoeopathy,  and  Homoeopathy  taught  him  to 
love  the  healing  art;  but  in  1870,  when  he  was  a 
registered  practitioner  of  thirty -six  years'  standing, 
he  wrote  his  pamphlet  "  A  Free  State  and  Free 
Medicine,"  advocating,  in  his  own  words,  universal 
discharterment  of  medical  bodies,  and  an  embracive 
penal  code  for  illegitimate  operations  and  deadly 
drugging  :  every  mortal  operation  and  fee,  to  be 
the  subject  of  (?  for)  a  jury. 

In  1832  he  came  back  to  London,  "  walked " 
Guy's  Hospital  for  two  years,  and  qualified  as 
Member  of  the  Royal  College  of  Surgeons  and 
Licentiate  of  the  Society  of  Apothecaries  in  June 
1834.  He  was  granted  the  degree  of  M.D.,  honoris 
causa,  by  the  University  of  Philadelphia  in  1853. 
Once  qualified  in  his  profession,  the  necessity  for 
maintaining  himself  became  pressing,  and  the 
young  surgeon  lost  no  time  in  setting  to  work.  He 
found  this  first  as  a  locum  tenens  at  Aylesbury. 

This  engagement  was  necessarily  a  temporary 
one,  and  on  November  9,  1835  we  find  Garth 
Wilkinson,  helped  by  loans  from  his  grandmother 
and  his  maternal  uncle,  William  Sewell,  at  the 
Veterinary  College,  establishing  himself  as  an 
independent  medical  practitioner  at  13  Store  Street, 
Bedford  Square.  The  position  of  a  medical  man 
in  private  practice  differed  then  from  that  which 
he  at  present  enjoys ;,  it  was  more  that  of  an 
apothecary  than  of  a  physician.  Though  called 


18       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

upon  to  diagnose  the  diseases  of  his  patients,  and 
charging  for  these  services  a  small  fee  for  attendance, 
the  greater  part  of  his  profits  lay  in  dispensing  his 
own  prescriptions  and  in  selling  drugs  and  plasters 
over  the  counter  of  his  "  front  shop  "  :  the  "  back- 
parlour  "  was  often  at  once  a  consulting-room  and 
living  room.  The  system  was  an  unsatisfactory 
one :  for  the  patient,  because  it  exposed  him  to 
the  necessity  of  swallowing  drenches  and  boluses 
in  large  numbers  and  quantity ;  for  the  practitioner 
in  general,  because  it  concentrated  his  interest  and 
attention  upon  routine  prescribing  and  petty  profit ; 
for  Garth  Wilkinson  in  particular,  because  he,  as  we 
know,  "  never  believed  in  the  good  or  truth  of 
promiscuous  drugging."  But  it  was  the  custom 
of  that  day ;  and  a  man  without  capital,  influence, 
or  academic  distinction  was  in  no  position  to  upset 
or  defy  it. 

But,  while  we  have  been  following  the  education 
and  outset  of  our  young  medico,  some  extra- 
professional  events  had  occurred  which  were  to 
exercise  strong  and  lifelong  influence  upon  the 
development  of  his  character  and  the  nature  of  his 
work.  One  of  the  brothers  of  his  mother  lived 
at  Woodford  in  Essex,  and  he  was  a  devout  reader 
and  follower  of  Emanuel  Swedenborg.  On  a  visit 
to  this  uncle,  Mr  George  Robinson,  Garth  Wilkinson 
received  his  first  introduction  to  the  voluminous 
writings  of  the  great  Swedish  mystic.  Little  as  he 


BIOGRAPHY  19 

or  his  introducer  could  guess  it,  the  initiation  was 
an  event  far  reaching  both  for  the   man   and  the 
doctrines.     For  the  neophyte  it  was   the  opening 
of  conscious   spiritual  life,  the  first  rapt  sight  of 
possibilities    for    himself    and    his    fellows ;     possi- 
bilities to  the  development  and  promulgation  of  which 
he  was  himself  to   devote  the  longest  hours   and 
deepest  thoughts  of  a  long  life  of  deep  thinking  and 
earnest   humble    work.     For    the    doctrine   it    was 
light  and  expression.     For  two  generations  of  time 
the  writings  had  lain  buried  in  a  dead  language, 
under  an  accumulation  of  neglect  all  but  universal. 
The  time  was  ready  for  their  resuscitation,  and  the 
man  who  could  effect  their  freedom  appeared.     If 
genius  is  the  coincidence  of  the  hour  and  the  man, 
a  Swedenborgian  genius  was  then  engendered.     It 
was  here,  too,  and  almost  at  the  same  time,  that 
Swedenborg's    champion   met   the   companion   who 
was  to  comfort  and  encourage  him  along  the  path 
which    was    opening    before    them    all    unwitting. 
Miss  Emma  Anne  Marsh,  daughter  of  Mr  William 
Marsh,    of    Diss,    Norfolk,    was    governess    to    Mr 
Robinson's    family.    The    meeting,    late    in    1833, 
was  at  once  recognized  as  momentous  by  the  young 
man,  and  two  years  later  he  was  to  learn  that  he 
shared  the  recognition  with  her.    There   was  the 
inevitable  pleasing  torment  of    doubts  and    fears, 
but   on   December    12,   1835,  an    engagement  was 
entered   into    and   announced.     It   is   not   difficult 


20       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

to  think  that  the  two  events  were  complement al. 
So  at  least  thought  one  of  the  contracting  parties. 
Writing  on  the  second  anniversary  of  the  engage- 
ment, he  says  : — 

"  This  gloomier  end  of  the  year  is  now  memorable 
to  me  for  two  remarkable  circumstances  of  my 
life ;  I  mean  my  betrothing  to  thee,  and  my 
acquaintance  with  the  writings  of  Swedenborg ;  two 
events  which,  occurring  almost  in  the  same  month, 
have  something  spiritually  of  connexion  with  each 
other.  I  can  most  truly  say  that  I  wish  my  reception 
of  both  of  you  to  be  constantly  progressing ;  I 
don't  feel  in  either  case  that  my  affections  are 
lessened;  I  do  not  find  that  a  nearer  inspection 
dissipates  the  fair  things  I  have  admired  in  both ; 
and  I  do  pray  that  we  may  be  enabled  to  live  over 
the  glorious  things  which  are  held  out  to  us  in  those 
books  of  which  I  hope  we  have  something  of  a 
common  admiration." 

From  the  time  of  his  engagement  to  Miss  Marsh, 
letters  passed  between  the  fiances  at  nominally 
weekly  intervals,  though  there  were  not  seldom 
occurrences  which  made  even  more  frequent  com- 
munication seem  necessary.  This  long  series  of 
letters  (for  they  were  not  married  until  January 
4,  184*0)  would  make  it  possible  to  construct  a 
diary  of  Garth  Wilkinson's  doings,  hopes  and  fears, 
and  of  many  of  his  thoughts  and  aspirations.  The 
fluctuations  of  practice,  pecuniary  anxiety,  his  social 


BIOGRAPHY  21 

pleasures,  his  early  literary  labours,  his  judgments 
of  men  and  measures,  are  all  set  down  in  this  journal 
intime;  but  what  concerns  us  more  is  the  evidence 
which  it  contains  of  growing  character.  The  early 
letters  are  those  of  a  young  man,  little  more  than  a 
boy  truly  in  love — 

Just  for  the  obvious  human  bliss, 
To  satisfy  life's  daily  thirst 
With  a  thing  men  seldom  miss. 

But  as  the  time  goes  by,  responsibility  and  work, 
professional  and  literary,  each  piece  done  honestly, 
ponderings  over  the  pages  he  translates,  and  over 
the  Introductions  which  he  writes,  do  their  work. 
Some  of  the  toil  would  have  been  sordid  and  souring 
to  one  less  in  earnest ;  but  we  see  the  writer  of 
pretty  and  sincere  love-letters  developing  into  the 
strong  loving  man,  just  and  firm  of  purpose,  tender 
to  his  fellows  but  hateful  of  the  evil  which  comes 
between  them  and  their  Maker :  self  reliant  but 
humble.  It  is  a  process  which  does  not  lend  itself 
to  illustration  by  quoted  passages,  but  the  change 
is  writ  plain  in  the  letters  and  could  scarcely  fail 
to  be  discerned. 

It  is  not  clear  whether  the  purchase  of  the  lease 
of  13  Store  Street  carried  with  it  the  goodwill  of  a 
medical  predecessor,  or  whether  the  venture  was  a 
breaking  of  new  ground.  In  either  case,  the  amount 
of  work  to  be  found  was  small,  at  first  very  small ; 


22       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

and  there  was  ample  time  for  other  occupations 
not  incompatible  with  waiting  for  patients. 
Wilkinson's  mind  was  now  fully  engaged  in  the 
study  of  Swedenborg's  writings,  and  he  was  already 
in  touch  with  the  Swedenborgian  Society.  He 
began  a  course  of  reading  in  his  many  spare  hours, 
and  gives  an  account  of  himself  at  the  British  Museum 
Reading  Room  of  that  day.1 

"  Fancy  to  yourself  three  very  large  and  splendid 
rooms,  equalling  the  King's  library  in  the  whole 
length  of  the  suite,  and  filled  with  all  the  thinking, 
literary,  and  antiquarian  faces  in  London,  with  deep 
silence  prevailing  over  the  whole  assembly,  and  you 
will  have  a  picture  of  a  curious  kind.  'Tis  like  a 
huge  schoolroom,  where  all  the  (old)  boys  are  really 
bent  on  improvement,  each  man  having  before  him 
some  huge  old  tome,  and  in  general  a  notebook,  into 
which  he  is  transcribing  the  cream  of  wisdom."  He 
appears  impressed  by  the  example  of  his  seniors,  to 
have  opened  his  studies  in  a  "  History  of  Philosophers," 
and  marked  that  all  were  mentioned  but  Swedenborg. 

His  zeal  for  the  cause,  and  his  evident  desire  to 
spend  his  energies  in  furthering  it,  soon  led  to  his 
obtaining  a  commission  from  the  Swedenborgian 
Society  for  a  translation  from  the  Latin  of  their 
master.  It  was  a  huge  piece  of  work  :  the  translator 
passed  through  the  usual  stages  of  hope,  despair,  of 
plodding  and  feverish  work.  These  moods  are  reflected 

1  Letter  to  Miss  E.  A.  Marsh,  August  8,  1836. 


BIOGRAPHY  33 

in  his  correspondence.  At  one  time  he  writes,  "  I  am 
now  quite  certain  that  authorship  is  not  my  forte : 
nay,  that  it  is  not  possible  to  me  " ;  at  another,  "  I 
have  been  steadily  and  methodically  getting  on  with 
the  Translation  of  the  '  Doctrine  of  Charity,'  the 
corrected  copy  of  which  I  have  now  half  finished.  I 
think  I  improve  in  translating ;  and  especially  in 
gradually  gaining  a  finer  perception  of  the  minutiae 
of  meaning  in  the  author's  Latin  ;  for  there  are  many 
things  which  a  person  might  never  know,  without 
being  detected  in  any  grievous  omission,  but  which,  if 
he  does  know,  will  gradually  give  a  finished  accuracy 
and  an  air  of  refined  meaning,  which  the  reader  will 
feel,  if  he  does  not  intellectually  detect  it.  Such  are 
the  renderings  of  many  little  words,  and  many  short 
arms  of  sentences,  which  frequently  occur,  and  which 
have  always  been  stumbling-blocks.  I  think  I  am 
now  getting  a  few  formulas  in  my  head  for  some  of 
them,  and  when  I  have  done  this  I  can  readily  and 
rapidly  apply  my  knowledge." 

He  worked,  through  good  cheer  and  evil  cheer,  to 
such  purpose  that,  having  already  published  his  trans- 
lation of  the  "  Last  Judgment "  and  "  Fall  of  Babylon," 
in  November  1839  he  is  correcting  at  the  same  time 
proofs  of  a  volume  of  his  own  translation  of  the 
"  Arcana  Ccelestia  "  and  of  a  volume  of  the  "  Doctrine 
of  Charity  "  in  Swedenborg's  original  Latin.  Even 
before  the  latter  was  published,  he  was  contemplat- 
ing a  new  and  amended  edition  of  it;  and  had 


24       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

also  laid  out  for  himself  another  heavy  piece  of 
work. 

"  1  I  have  set  myself  another  task  ;  and,  not  without 
invoking  the  Divine  Blessing.  I  have  actually  com- 
menced it ;  and  am  determined  to  '  do  or  die.'  This 
task  is,  the  translation  into  English  of  Swedenborg's 
great  work  entitled  '  Regnum  Animale  '  or  Animal 
Kingdom  !  It  contains  seven  hundred  closely  printed 
quarto  pages,  and  I  shall  be  about  three  years  in 
completing  it ;  but  when  I  have,  I  trust,  if  I  work 
with  a  good  end  (the  end  is  all),  I  shall  have  shown 
that  God  intended  a  use  to  His  children  even  through 
me,  and  in  manifestly  becoming  such  an  instrument, 
and  in  most  humbly  becoming  so,  lies  the  only,  the 
greatest,  glory  which  can  belong  to  anyone,  to  woman 
or  to  man.  I  calculate  upon  doing  a  page  a  day,  and 
I  hope  you  will  sit  beside  me  and  encourage  me  to  my 
duty.  I  do  not  intend  to  be  in  a  hurry  about  it,  nor 
yet  in  an  apathy.  .  .  .  The  advantages  will  be  great 
(as  to  money,  probably,  in  the  first  instance,  none). 
They  will  be,  first,  disconnected  from  self,  the  boon  to 
the  English  Public,  and  especially  the  Medical  Pro- 
fession, of  the  greatest  and  noblest  work  on  Human 
Physiology  which  has  ever  appeared  in  the  world ; 
and  the  disposing  men's  minds  thereby  to  look  up- 
ward to  the  still  more  glorious  truths  which  the  author 
of  the  work  was  the  instrument  of  dispensing. 
Nothing  can  be  better  calculated  to  effect  this,  than 

1  Letter  to  Miss  Marsh,  October  8,  1839. 


BIOGRAPHY  25 

the  '  animal  kingdom.'  It  has  solidity  and  depth, 
beauty,  philosophy,  Reverence  and  Fact !  and  all 
these  things  in  the  highest  degree.  The  advantages 
to  me  will  be,  that  the  translating  of  the  work  will 
lead  me  through  the  whole  field  of  Physiology  (the 
most  important  one  in  medicine)  as  disclosed  in  this 
and  in  many  other  authors  ;  and  this  will  make  me 
a  far  more  able  professor  of  medicine.  It  will  give 
me  a  perfect  facility  in  reading  and  knowing  the 
Latin  language,  and  even  some  power  of  writing  it,  if 
need  be.  It  will  make  me  a  fair  English  writer,  and 
accustom  me  to  the  model  of  the  finest  writer  of  any 
age  or  country.  And  it  will  give  me  a  certain  stand- 
ing among  the  men  of  letters  in  the  land,  if  I  do  it  well. 
Then,  the  greatest  and  first  and  last  of  reasons,  I 
shall  be  fulfilling  a  use  for  which,  since  He  gave  me 
the  power,  I  may  think  that  the  Lord  designed  me.  I 
am  going  on,  therefore,  and  go  on  I  will." 

The  work  was  begun  in  a  high  spirit ;  it  was  one 
which  it  needed  high  spirit  to  attack.  It  was  longer 
and  harder  than  he  who  undertook  it  knew ;  but  he 
finished  it,  and  it  was  duly  published  in  1843. 

But  these  were  not  to  be  the  first  fruits  from  Garth 
Wilkinson's  pen  to  reach  the  public  eye. 

In  1838,  Mr  Charles  Augustus  Tulk,  then  Member 
of  Parliament  for  Poole,  lent  Mr  Wilkinson  a  copy  of 
William  Blake's  "  Songs  of  Innocence  and  of  Ex- 
perience," a  copy  of  William  Blake's  own  making. 
The  "  Songs,"  issued  in  many  a  modern  series  of 


S6       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

English  classics,  are  now  to  be  found  on  many  book- 
shelves, and  in  many  memories  ;  but  in  1838  they 
existed  only  in  the  prints  struck  off  from  the  copper 
upon  which  Blake  had  himself  engraved  in  relief  both 
the  text  and  the  marginal  illustrations.  Of  the 
thirty  pence  which  Blake  and  his  wife  owned  for  their 
sole  resource,  on  one  occasion,  twenty-two  were  spent 
in  the  purchase  of  materials  for  the  first  impressions. 
Surely  determination  to  be  heard  could  no  further 
go.  The  delicacy  and  spiritual  simplicity  of  the 
"  Songs  "  made  a  deep  impression  on  Garth  Wilkinson, 
who  was  himself  to  do  somewhat  similar  work  in  his 
Improvisations  from  the  Spirit.  His  brother 
William,  holding  no  lower  opinion,  came  forward 
with  the  necessary  funds  ;  subscribers  were  sought 
high  and  low  ;  a  preface  was  written,  and  the  edition 
(the  first  printed,  in  the  usual  sense  of  the  word),  a 
thin  cloth-bound  octavo,  was  published  jointly  by 
Pickering  and  Newbery  on  July  9,  1839.  It  consists 
of  twenty-one  pages  of  preface  and  seventy-four  pages 
of  text.  It  is  a  little  book,  which  now  finds  a  big 
welcome  from  bibliophiles.  Mr  Gilchrist  had  diffi- 
culty in  obtaining  it  in  1860,  when  nearly  thirty 
shillings  was  its  usual  price.  At  five  times  that  sum 
it  may  be  sought  for  in  vain  to-day ;  but  its  editor 
thought  himself  fortunate  to  introduce  it  to  his 
generation  without  loss.  In  his  preface,  after  de- 
tailing the  then  known  facts  of  Blake's  life,  our 
young  author  sets  himself  to  examine  the  spiritual 


BIOGRAPHY  37 

claims  of  his  poet.  He  falls  foul  of  Allan  Cunningham, 
who  roughly  classed  them  as  delusions.  He  says, 
"  In  thus  condemning  the  superficial  canons  by  which 
Blake  has  been  judged,  it  is  far  indeed  from  our  in- 
tention to  express  any  approbation  of  the  spirit  in 
which  he  conceived  and  executed  his  latest  works  ; 
or  to  profess  to  see  good  in  the  influences  to  which  he 
then  yielded  himself,  and  from  which  his  visional 
experiences  proceeded.  But  since  every  human 
being,  even  during  his  sojourn  in  the  material  world, 
is  the  union  of  a  spirit  and  a  body — the  spirit  of  each 
being  among  spirits  in  the  spiritual,  even  as  his  body 
is  among  bodies  in  the  natural  world — it  is  therefore 
plain,  that  if  the  mind  has  unusual  intuitions,  which 
are  not  included  by  the  common  laws  of  nature  and 
of  body,  and  not  palpable  to  the  common  eye,  such 
intentions  must  be  regarded  as  spiritual  facts  or 
phenomena  ;  and  their  source  looked  for,  in  the  ever- 
present  influences — Divinely  provided,  or  permitted, 
according  as  they  are  for  good  or  evil — of  our  own 
human  predecessors,  all  now  spiritual  beings,  who 
have  gone  before  us  into  the  land  of  life.  On  this 
ground,  which  involves  the  only  pratical  belief  of  the 
immortality  of  the  soul,  and  the  only  possibility  of 
the  past  influencing  the  present,  it  would  be  un~ 
philosophical  and  even  dangerous,  to  call  our  very 
dreams  delusions.  It  is  still,  indeed,  right  that  we 
c  try  all  spirits,  at  the  judgment  bar  of  a  revelation- 
enlightened  reason ' ;  yet,  be  the  verdict  what  it  may, 


28       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

it  can  never  retrospectively  deny  that  spiritual 
existence,  on  whose  qualities  alone  it  is  simply  to 
adjudicate." 

This  is,  of  course,  a  short  statement  of  the 
Swedenborgian  teaching  concerning  the  factors  which 
condition  "  influx,"  and  it  is  supported  by  a  foot- 
note :  ''  The  true  and  unpopular  doctrine  on  this 
subject  is  so  plainly  set  forth  by  our  great  modern 
luminary,  that  we  ask  no  excuse  for  inserting  it  here  ; 
more  especially  as  it  will  assist  the  reader  to  the  com- 
prehension of  Blake's  state  of  mind."  There  follows 
a  long  Latin  quotation  from  Swedenborg. 

The  preface  goes  on  to  appreciate  Blake's  artistic, 
and  especially  his  poetic,  position.  Speaking  of 
Blake's  terrible  drawings  of  hell,  it  says  :  "  We  have 
the  impression  that  we  are  looking  down  into  the 
hells  of  the  ancient  people,  the  Anakim,  the  Nephilim, 
and  the  Rephaim.  Their  human  forms  are  gigantic 
petrifactions,  from  which  the  fires  of  lust,  and  intense 
selfish  passion,  have  long  since  dissipated  what  was 
animal  and  vital ;  leaving  stony  limbs,  and  counten- 
ances expressive  of  despair  and  stupid  cruelty." 
Blake's  mind  is  then  compared  and  contrasted  with 
that  of  Shelley.  The  preface  concludes  :  "If  the 
volume  gives  one  impulse  to  the  New  Spiritualism 
which  is  now  dawning  on  the  world ;  if  it  leads  one 
reader  to  think  that  all  reality  for  him,  in  the  long 
run,  lies  out  of  the  limits  of  space  and  time  ;  and  that 
spirits,  and  not  bodies,  and  still  less  garments,  are 


BIOGRAPHY  29 

men  ;  if  it  gives  one  blow,  even  the  faintest,  to  those 
term-shifting  juggleries,  which  usurp  the  name  of 
'  Philosophical  Systems  '  (and  all  the  energies  of  all 
the  forms  of  genuine  truth  must  henceforth  be  ex- 
pended on  these  effects),  it  will  have  done  its  work 
in  its  little  day,  and  we  shall  be  abundantly  satisfied 
with  having  undertaken  to  perpetuate  it,  for  a  few 
years,  by  the  present  republication." 

This  preface  appears  to  call  for  somewhat  ex- 
tensive quotation,  primarily  as  being  the  first 
original  work  of  Wilkinson's  pen ;  and,  secondarily, 
as  being  difficult  of  approach  for  the  general 
reader.  The  vivid  vigour  of  style  and  some  of 
the  curious  knowledge  of  the  writer  are  already 
visible. 

The  drawings  of  Blake  deeply  impressed  his 
admirer.  "  A  few  days  ago,"  he  writes  on  November 
6,  1838,  "  I  was  introduced  by  my  friend  Mr  Elwell 
to  a  Mr  Tathans,  an  artist,  who  possesses  all  the 
drawings  left  by  Blake.  ...  It  was  indeed  a — 
not  a  treat,  but  an  astonishment  to  me.  The  first 
painting  we  came  to  realized  to  me  the  existence 
of  powers  which  I  did  not  know  are  had  in  it.  'Twas 
an  infernal  scene,  and  the  only  really  infernal  thing 
I  ever  saw — '  Life  dies,  Death  lives  '  might,  as 
Elwell  said,  explain  the  character  of  it.  It  was  most 
unutterable  and  abominable — a  hopeless  horror. 
Of  the  same  kind  were  many  of  the  others.  On  the 
whole,  I  must  say  the  series  of  drawings,  giving  me 


50       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

an  idea  that  Blake  was  inferior  to  no  one  who  ever 
lived,  in  terrific  tremendous  power,  also  gave  me 
the  impression  that  his  whole  inner  man  must  have 
been  in  a  monstrous  and  deformed  condition — 
for  it  teemed  with  monstrous  and  horrid  productions. 
Those  who  would  see  Hell  before  they  die,  may  be 
quite  satisfied  that  they  veritably  have  seen  it  by 
looking  at  the  drawings  of  Blake.  At  the  same 
time,  all  the  conceptions  are  gigantic  and  appropriate, 
and  there  is  an  awful  Egyptian  death-life  about  all 
the  figures." 

A  belief  in  the  truly  spiritual  nature  of  Blake's 
inspiration  is  not  inconsistent  with  deep  suspicions 
as  to  his  sanity.  "  I  received,"  he  wrote  on  July 
17,  1839,  "the  Designs,  etc.,  of  Blake's  from  Mr 
Clarke ;  comprising,  I  fancy,  all  those  you  saw.  I 
almost  wish  I  had  not  seen  them.  The  designs 
are  disorder  rendered  palpable  and  powerful,  and 
give  me  strongly  the  impression  of  their  being 
the  work  of  a  madman.  Insanity  seems  stamped 
on  every  one  of  them ;  and  their  hideous  forms 
and  lurid  hellish  colouring,  exhale  a  very  unpleasant 
sphere  into  my  mind ;  so  much  so,  that  I  confess 
I  should  not  like  to  have  the  things  long  hi  my 
house.  ...  I  felt  puzzled  what  to  say  of  the  man 
who  was  compounded  of  such  heterogeneous  materials 
as  to  be  able  at  one  time  to  write  the  '  Songs  of 
Innocence '  and  at  another  '  The  Visions  of  the 
Daughters  of  Albion.'  '  The  Book  of  Thel '  is,  partly, 


BIOGRAPHY  31 

an  exception  to  the  general  badness  or  unintelligi- 
bility  of  his  verse  and  designs.  I  can  see  some 
glimmer  of  meaning  in  it,  and  some  warmth  of 
religion  and  of  goodness ;  but  beginning  to  be 
obscured  and  lost  under  the  infatuating  phantasies 
which  at  length  possessed  its  author.  I  should  say 
sanity  predominates  in  it,  rather  than  that  the  work 
was  a  sane  one.  Some  of  the  single  lines  are  grand 
and  expressive." 

But  when  a  man  is  between  twenty -five  and  thirty, 
and  a  bachelor  (though  quite  unwillingly),  and  full 
of  interest  in  life,  physic  and  translation  cannot 
occupy  all  his  time.  His  friend  Mr  Dow  lived  in 
or  near  Store  Street,  and  had  a  large  and  pleasant 
circle  of  acquaintance  into  which  he  cordially 
welcomed  his  young  doctor.  Mr  Tulk,  too,  had 
reunions  of  varying  degrees  of  formality,  where  at 
one  time  set  debates  on  matters  Swedenborgian  took 
place ;  at  others  general  social  pleasures  were 
pursued.  Among  his  brother  professional  men  he 
naturally  made  many  friends,  while  as  yet  he  had 
not  banished  himself  from  among  them  by  champion- 
ing the  unpopular  doctrines  of  Halmemann.  He 
made  the  acquaintance  of  Robert  Browning,  and 
heard  a  private  reading  of  "  Straff  or  d "  at  Mr 
Dow's  before  seeing  the  first  performance  of  the 
play  on  May  1,  1837.  '  You  are  curious  to  hear 
about  '  Strafford.'  Well,  you  shall  be  told.  .  .  . 
We  all  formed  a  formidable  body  at  the  box  door ; 


m       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

.  .  .  there  were  three  dozen  of  us  together.  The 
house  was  crammed  to  the  utmost,  and  the  audience 
very  respectable.  The  first  Act  went  off  rather 
heavily,  but  the  play  gained  as  it  proceeded,  and 
in  spite  of  a  most  miserable  c  cast  of  characters,' 
it  must  be  considered  a  most  successful  production. 
The  applause  at  its  termination  was  prodigious, 
and  lasted  for  something  like  twenty  minutes,  mingled 
with  the  most  vociferous  cries  for  the  author,  who, 
however,  did  not  appear." 

"  Last  night  (Feb.  3,  1838)  Mr  Browning,  senior, 
came  here.  He  is  a  very  pleasant  and  quiet  man, 
and  Mr  Dow  made  him  sit  down  with  pencil  in  hand 
and  produce  a  little  off-hand  sketch  of  Baby.  In 
three  or  four  minutes  he  produced  a  very  striking 
likeness." 

He  had  some  acquaintance  with  Maeready,  saw 
him  in  "  Virginius  "  and  found  it  "  a  perfect  master- 
piece of  acting,  and  far  too  much  for  my  sensibilities." 
"  You  will  be  sorry  to  hear  that  on  Friday  night 
(April  1836)  Mr  Maeready  was  greatly  irritated  by 
the  conduct  of  Mr  Bunn,  the  rascally  manager  of 
Drury  Lane,  and  was  tempted  to  give  Mr  Bunn  a 
very  complete  and  merited  thrashing.  ...  Mr 
Dow  was  there  at  the  time."  The  "  Poet  "  Bunn 
and  the  readily  irritated  tragedian  must  have  made 
a  fine  scene. 

About  this  time  he  attended  lectures  on  Animal 
Magnetism  by  Baron  Dupotet  and  was  moved 


BIOGRAPHY  33 

to  repeat  some  of  the  experiments  upon  his  boy. 
"  Last  night,  as  Mr  Hewitt  and  I  were  sitting  together, 
I  called  Henry  in.  He  had  never  heard  of  the 
startling  effects,  and  did  not  know  what  I  was 
doing.  After  an  operation  of  about  five  minutes, 
during  the  whole  of  which  time  he  was  laughing  to 
himself  at  the  absurd  looking  manipulations,  his  head 
suddenly  declined,  and  he  was  quite  asleep !  I 
had  difficulty  in  wakening  him.  Here  there  could 
be  no  fancy,  and  he  is  a  remarkably  wakeful  boy." 
"  On  Wednesday  last  (April  8,  1839)  I  went  with 
Alfred  Wornum  to  see  Dr  Elliotson's  mesmeric 
experiments  at  the  Dr's  own  house.  The  meeting 
was  held  in  the  drawing-room.  .  .  .  The  Countess 
of  Blessington  came,  and  sat  down  quite  close  to 
me  during  some  of  the  time.  The  things  shown 
were  truly  wonderful.  Let  any  sceptic  go  there, 
and  if  he  be  not  shaken  in  his  disbelief,  the 
scepticism  belongs  to  the  will  and  not  to  the 
intellect." 

He  attended  also  a  course  of  lectures  by  Thomas 
Carlyle  in  the  summer  of  1838.  The  two  men 
were  acquainted,  possibly  by  Wilkinson  writing 
to  him  his  appreciation  of  this  course  of  lectures. 
Three  letters  only  from  Carlyle  were  found  among 
Dr  Wilkinson's  papers,  but  of  these  the  two  later 
indicate  some  intimacy. 


84       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

< 

"5  CHEYNE  Row,  CHELSEA, 
"August  2nd  1838. 

"  DEAR  SIR, — Accept  my  best  thanks  for  your 
gift  of  Em.  Swedenborg's  work,  and  for  the  kind 
sentiments  you  entertain  towards  me.  That  an 
earnest  fellow-man  recognizes  an  earnest  meaning 
in  us,  and  with  brotherly  heart  wishes  us  success 
in  our  special  course  of  endeavour :  this  is  a  true 
benefit,  one  of  the  truest  and  purest  we  can  receive 
in  this  world.  Alas,  each  man,  enveloped  in  his 
own  peculiarities  and  confused  tortuosities,  is  in 
great  part  hidden  from  all  men  :  seen  only  of  the 
maker  of  men !  It  is  much  if  we  can  discern,  here 
and  there,  darkly  as  thro'  tumults  and  vapour, 
that  here  also  is  a  brother  struggling  whither  we 
struggle  ;  and  call  to  him  from  the  distance,  '  Good 
speed  to  thee  also  ! ' 

"  Hitherto  I  have  known  nearly  nothing  of  Sweden- 
borg  ;  or  indeed  I  might  say  less  than  nothing,  having 
been  wont  to  picture  him  as  an  amiable  but  inane 
visionary,  with  affections  quite  out  of  proportion 
to  his  insight ;  from  whom  nothing  was  to  be  learned. 
It  is  so  we  judge  of  extraordinary  men.  But  I 
have  been  rebuked  already :  a  little  book  by  one 
Sampson  Reed,  of  Boston  in  New  England,  which 
some  friend  sent  hither,  taught  me  that  a  Sweden  - 
borgian  might  have  thoughts  of  the  calmest  sort 
on  the  deepest  things,  that  in  short  I  did  not 


BIOGRAPHY  35 

know    Swedenborg,    and    ought    to    be    ready    to 
know  him. 

"  I  hope  to  find  due  leisure  for  studying  this  Book 
of  yours  before  many  days.  I  engage  to  read  it 
with  my  best  attention.  Meanwhile,  soliciting  a 
continuance  of  your  good  will,  I  remain,  dear  Sir, 
yours  with  thanks,  T.  CARLYLE." 

The  following  long  quotation  in  a  letter  to  his 
fiancee  from  Garth  Wilkinson  is  dated  October 
3,  1839  :— 

"  You  may  recollect  that  I  sent  a  small  packet 
to  our  friend  Carlyle,  containing  *  Blake,'  my  trans- 
lation of  the  'Last  Judgment,'  Sampson  Reed  etc. 
On  Saturday  night,  quite  contrary  to  all  my  expecta- 
tions, I  received  such  a  very  kind  brotherly  letter 
from  him  !  You  will  be  pleased  to  see  it.  I  have 
only  copied  what  he  says  of  Swedenborg.  He 
speaks  of  me  and  my  presents — then  of  Blake's 
4  Songs '  and  Preface — then  he  says  : — 

"  '  The  book  of  Swedenborg's  which  you  have 
translated  anew,  I  read  carefully  in  the  old  version 
received  from  you  long  ago.  The  impression  it 
left  was,  and  is,  very  strange.  In  his  feeling  about 
the  moral  essence  of  things,  properly  the  core  of  his 
own  being,  I  almost  altogether  and  even  emphatic- 
ally agreed  with  him.  It  was  clear,  too,  that  he 
was  a  man  of  robust,  nay,  you  would  have  said, 
cold,  hard,  practical-looking  understanding :  how 


36       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

such  a  man  should  have  shaped  for  himself,  into 
quiet  historical  concretions,  standing  there  palpable, 
visible,  solid  and  composed  as  the  mountain  rocks 
or  more  so,  spiritual  objects  which  eye  hath  not 
seen  nor  ear  heard ;  this  is  what  I  cannot  at  all 
put  together.  I  have  looked  into  all  the  lives 
of  Swedenborg  that  my  Biographical  Dictionaries 
would  yield  me  ;  but  with  little  help  there.  I  ought 
to  admit  that  this  is  one  of  the  most  wondrous 
men ;  whom  /  cannot  altogether  undertake  to 
interpret  for  myself !  I  can  love  and  honour 
such  a  man,  and  leave  the  mystery  of  him 
mysterious.' 

"  That  good  may  go  with  you  on  the  good  path 
you  travel  so  prays  heartily,  my  dear  Sir,  yours 
always,  T.  CARLYLE." 

It  will  be  convenient  to  deal  here  with  the  rest 
of  this  acquaintance,  though  the  following  notes 
are  of  a  far  later  date  than  the  time  with  which 
we  are  now  dealing.  No  doubt  the  second  European 
visit  of  their  common  friend,  Mr  Emerson,  had  drawn 
the  two  men  nearer  together. 

The  first  note  is  to  decline  an  invitation  to 
the  wedding  of  Garth  Wilkinson's  eldest  daughter 
Emma  to  Lieutenant  Hermann  Pertz.  It  is 
interesting  as  showing  Carlyle's  struggle  through 
the  three  last  volumes  of  his  "  Frederick  the 
Great." 


BIOGRAPHY  37 

"  June  6tk,  1859. 

"  MY  DEAR  SIR, — I  am  sorry  to  be  cut  off  from 
attending  you  on  this  pleasant  occasion.  We  are 
too  weak  here  (especially  the  poor  wife),  and  too 
busy  (especially  the  other  party,  who  is  like  to  be 
swallowed  and  extinguished  altogether  with  a  job 
too  heavy  for  him,  and  too  hideous) — too  weak  and 
busy  for  going  out  at  all,  for  many  months  past, 
even  under  the  handiest  circumstances. 

"  I  pray  you  offer  my  respects  and  congratulations 
to  all  the  parties,  old  and  young,  concerned  in  this 
glad  business,  and  believe  me,  yours  sincerely, 

T.  CARLYLE." 

In  the  last  note  preserved  (dated  November  10, 
1863)  the  struggle  continues  :  it  has  visibly  affected 
the  handwriting  and  induced  abbreviations. 

"  DEAR  WILKINSON, — The  Photograph  is  excellfc — 
very  like ;  and  I  am  greatly  obliged  to  you  for  it. 
We  have  put  it  into  the  brother  compartment 
in  the  general  Galaxy  of  friendly  Faces  ;  and  from 
time  to  time  it  will  turn  up  as  a  memento,  or  be 
sought  for  as  such,  bringing  nothing  but  pleasant 
thoughts  with  it. 

"As  to  the  Chelsea  Photographs  you  speak  of,  I 
am  far  too  busy  to  spare  even  an  hour  for  such 
operations  at  pres* :  but  surely  in  not  many  months 


38       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

now  my  doleful  Prussian  (ultra  -  Babylonish) 
Captivity  will  end ;  after  whh,  if  permitted, 
how  happy  shall  I  be  to  remember  yr  flattering 
suggestion  ! 

"  Wish,  for  my  sake,  it  may  be  soon. — Yours  always 
truly,  T.  CARLYLE." 

In  March  1839,  Garth  Wilkinson  had  a  serious 
illness  which  laid  him  by  for  some  weeks  and  this 
was  followed  by  a  convalescence  at  Hampstead. 
Later  in  the  same  year  one  of  his  sisters  living  with 
him  had  small-pox :  when  it  is  interesting  to  notice 
that  the  young  householder  lost  no  time  in  obtaining 
lymph  and  vaccinating  all  the  inmates  and  himself. 
His  fierce  opposition  to  the  process  and  its  enforce- 
ment was  a  growth  of  later  date. 

During  these  years  of  early  practice,  or  rather 
of  waiting  for  practice  and  matrimony,  impatience 
was  excusable.  The  young  people  even  exerted 
themselves,  and  tried  to  stir  up  influence,  to  obtain 
an  appointment  as  Veterinary  Surgeon  in  India. 
Fortunately  Garth  Wilkinson's  uncle,  Mr  Sewell, 
head  of  the  Veterinary  College,  had  a  hatred  of 
nepotism  and  declined  to  move  in  the  matter. 

Mr  Gaskell,  a  relative,  was  part  proprietor  of 
the  Weekly  True  Son  and  it  seems  likely  that  a 
proposal  was  made  that  Wilkinson  should  become 
a  contributor  and  that  the  proposal  was  embraced, 
though  nothing  of  his  writing  has  been  traced  there. 


BIOGRAPHY  39 

He  projected  an  article  on  Swedenborg  for  the 
Westminster  Review ;  but  the  idea  stood  over  for 
the  time,  though  it  was  not  abandoned  :  for  in  184& 
he  wrote  the  article  "  A  sketch  of  Swedenborg  and 
the  Swedenborgians,"  for  the  "  Penny  Cyclopaedia," 
which  was  reprinted  as  a  booklet,  and  was  doubtless 
the  nucleus  of  his  "  Emanuel  Swedenborg,  a  bio- 
graphy "  published  in  1849  and  issued  in  a  second 
amended  edition  in  1886. 

The  long  time  of  waiting  came  to  an  end,  and 
John  James  Garth  Wilkinson  was  married  to 
Emma  Anne  Marsh  on  January  4,  1840.  Their 
income  was  small ;  their  prosperity  depended, 
humanly  speaking,  on  their  own  exertions.  But 
they  were  a  couple  who  were  ready  to  leave  a  large 
margin  to  faith.  He,  indeed,  was  not  careful  to 
be  "  too  thoroughly  justified  "  by  worldly  posses- 
sions in  this  momentous  step !  They  repaired 
straight  from  the  church  to  their  little  house  in  Store 
Street,  and  began  at  once  the  homely  unpretentious 
life  which  they  designed  to  continue. 

Let  it  be  said  at  once  that  Garth  Wilkinson 
was  highly  and  deeply  blessed  in  his  married  life. 
Destined  never  to  be  rich,  he  gained  a  wife  whose 
deep  fund  of  contentment  and  housewifely  com- 
petence would  have  gilded  means  narrower  than 
theirs.  Eclectic  and  independent  in  the  unpopular 
causes  which  he  espoused,  he  found  a  mate  who 
could  trust  the  wisdom  and  sincerity  of  his  aims ; 


40       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

she  could,  moreover,  understand  and  share  them : 
subject  as  he  was  to  those  misgivings  and  apprehen- 
sions which  at  times  beset  the  most  enthusiastic, 
she  brought  an  innate  serenity  of  temperament 
into  the  partnership.  They  held  together  the 
highest  principles,  their  qualities  and  powers  were 
largely  complementary.  How  far  she  made  possible 
the  tale  of  work  which  stands  to  his  name,  he  and 
she  alone  knew ;  and  it  was  her  constant  aim  to 
conceal  her  share  in  it.  They  remained,  and 
doubtless  still  remain,  true  lovers. 

We  must  not  dwell  on  this  subject  at  length ; 
but  any  account  of  Garth  Wilkinson's  life  which 
did  not  acknowledge  a  debt,  both  in  happiness  and 
achievement,  to  his  wife  would  be  incomplete. 

The  visible  fruit  of  this  union  was  three  daughters 
and  a  son ;  we  shall  meet  with  allusions  to  them  from 
time  to  time. 

Garth  Wilkinson's  standing  task  after,  as  before, 
his  marriage  was  the  translation  of  the  "  Regnum 
Animale,"  but  he  found  time  for  occasional  articles 
for  the  Monthly  Magazine,  then  edited  by  his  friend 
Mr  John  A.  Herraud.  In  November,  1840,  he 
contributed  a  long  and  reasoned  review  of  the 
whole  subject  of  mesmerism,  with  which  we  deal 
later  (see  page  74).  In  May  1841,  he  collaborated 
with  the  editor  in  an  article  upon  Emanuel  Sweden- 
borg,  the  first  of  three  popular  biographical  accounts 
in  which  he  was  to  be  concerned.  In  the  course 


BIOGRAPHY  41 

of  the  same  year  he  contributed  a  criticism  of  certain 
manuscript  notes  by  S.  T.  Coleridge,  found  by  Mr 
Tulk  in  a  copy  of  Swedenborg's  "  (Economia  Regni 
Animalis."  The  writer  points  out  that  Coleridge's 
comments  were  intelligible  to  a  large  body  of  students, 
while  the  subjects  of  them  belonged  to  an  unknown 
system,  and  were  placed  at  an  unfair  disadvantage 
by  isolation  from  their  contexts  :  he  shows  that 
the  critic  read  only  the  last  fifth  of  the  book  and  that 
his  annotations  were  written  passim,  and  not  upon  a 
calm  consideration  of  all  that  he  did  read.  Coleridge, 
in  his  "  inordinate  lust  of  annotations,"  was  as 
it  were,  talking  to  himself  as  he  read,  and  he  was 
used  rather  hardly  in  being  himself  criticized  keenly 
but  politely :  but  the  occurrence  gave  an  opening 
for  Garth  Wilkinson  to  champion  and  explain  his 
master,  such  an  opening  as  he  was  not  likely  either 
then,  or  later,  to  pass  by. 

One  of  these  articles  caught  the  eye  and  at- 
tracted the  admiration  of  Mr  Henry  James,  editor 
of  a  Fourierist  newspaper,  The  Harbinger  of  New 
York,  himself  a  polished  writer  upon  theological 
and  metaphysical  subjects,  the  father  of  Pro- 
fessor William  James  and  of  Mr  Henry  James, 
the  well-known  writers  of  to-day.  Notice  led  to 
acquaintance,  and  acquaintance  ripened  into  in- 
timate friendship.  For  many  years  the  two  men 
corresponded  regularly,  copiously  and  affectionately. 
The  letters  from  London  to  New  York  have  been 


42       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

carefully  preserved,  and  give  us  a  journal  of  the 
intellectual  occupations  of  the  writer  :  those  from 
New  York  to  London  have  been  unfortunately 
with  few  exceptions  destroyed. 

The  new  friend  proved  practically  helpful  as  well 
as  intellectually  suggestive  and  sustaining.  Either 
he  or  his  wife,  a  woman  whose  modest  charm  of 
manner  and  personal  beauty  made  her  everywhere 
remarkable,  dropped  the  seed  which  led  Garth 
Wilkinson  to  embrace  homoepathy.  This,  as  we 
have  already  seen,  reconciled  him  to  the  practice 
of  his  profession,  though  it  alienated  him  in  great 
measure  from  the  bulk  of  his  brother  practitioners. 
The  new  friend  threw  the  columns  of  his  own  paper 
©pen  to  a  writer  who  had  yet  to  make  a  name ;  he 
named  him,  when  an  English  writer  was  wanted,  as 
weekly  correspondent  for  the  New  York  Tribune, 
another  journal  of  Fourierist  tendencies,  founded 
by  Horace  Greely  and  edited  by  George  Ripley, 
who  remained  a  life-long  friend  to  Wilkinson.  He 
introduced  him  to  the  leading  Americans  who 
visited  England ;  Emerson,  Longfellow,  Dana, 
Hawthorne  and  many  others  were  friends  whom 
Garth  Wilkinson  owed  primarily  to  Mr  James' 
influence.  But,  more  than  this,  he  initiated  and 
fostered  the  acceptance  and  good  repute  of  Wilkin- 
son's work  amongst  the  numerous  adherents  of 
the  New  Church  in  the  United  States.  There,  even 
more  than  here,  the  English  interpreter  of  Sweden- 


BIOGRAPHY  43 

borg  was  widely  and  carefully  read :  and  when, 
in  1869,  he  took  a  long  contemplated  but  swiftly 
performed  tour  in  America,  he  found  his  own  name 
a  passport  to  recognition  and  hospitality  wherever 
he  laid  his  foot. 

The  following  extracts  from  a  letter  to  one  of  his 
sisters  (August  11,  1840),  the  only  one  of  this  period 
which  has  survived,  gives  some  idea  of  his  activities. 
After  apologies  for  delay,  he  says  "  In  the  first  place 
I  have  been  busy  for  some  weeks  ;  that  is,  relatively 
busy ;  so  that  I  have  not  been  able,  on  many  days, 
to  apply  myself  to  my  translation,  which  you  know 
generally  goes  on  athwart  almost  everything.  Then, 
in  the  next,  I  have  been  occupied  rather  more  than 
was  agreeable  in  writing  and  supervising  the  publica- 
tion of  the  Report  of  the  Printing  Society ;  which, 
however,  is  happily  now  out.  .  .  .  On  Sunday  week 
I  was  invited  to  Dr  Elliotson's,  to  meet  the 
Reverend  Channey  Hare  Townshend,  and  to 
see  some  mesmeric  experiments.  .  .  .  Amongst 
them  (the  guests)  were  Mr  Tulk,  Mr  Townshend, 
Mr  Dickens  (Boz),  Jack  Forster  and  about  8 
others.  .  .  .  Our  life,  though  not  a  very  uncom- 
fortable (!),  is  a  very  unvaried  one.  Mine  consists 
almost  entirely  in  seeing  what  patients  I  have  to  see, 
and  in  writing  two  quarto  pages  per  diem,  winding 
up  the  day,  now  and  then,  by  a  call  from  a  friend." 

Garth  Wilkinson  had  joined  the  Swedenborgian 
Society  soon  after  he  began  the  study  of  the  writings, 


44       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

and  it  naturally  was  not  long  before  he  became  a 
prominent  member.  He  was  on  the  Printing  Com- 
mittee which  was  engaged  in  bringing  out  a  uniform 
edition  of  all  the  "  Works  "  :  there  was  some  differ- 
ence of  opinion  on  the  importance  of  this  matter, 
and  letters  of  an  earlier  date  give  a  lively  account 
of  party  politics  in  the  Society.  The  Wilkinsons, 
for  Garth  was  seconded  by  his  brother  William,  now 
a  rising  solicitor,  appear  to  have  had  at  least  a  fair 
share  of  the  direction.  Wilkinson,  as  we  shall  see, 
was  little  in  sympathy  with  the  sectarian  side  of 
Swedenborgianism.  He  was  concerned  rather  with 
the  spiritual  and  intellectual  side  of  the  matter, 
and,  in  general,  where  essentials  were  not  involved, 
gave  his  time  to  interpreting  and  translating  the  works. 
His  translation  of  the  "  Regnum  Animale  "  was 
duly  published  in  1843,  prefaced  by  a  long  and  care- 
fully written  introduction.  He  demonstrates  the 
scientific  value  of  Swedenborg's  work  and  presses 
his  claims  for  recognition  upon  the  scientists  of 
the  day.  Incidentally  he  gives  a  disquisition  upon 
the  earlier  anatomists,  to  show  how  fully  his  author 
was  abreast  of,  or  even  ahead  of,  contemporary 
knowledge.  Such  an  excursus  argues  special  study. 
It  is,  indeed,  evident  that  at  this  period  of  his  life, 
Wilkinson  was  storing  his  mind  with  that  vast 
knowledge  which  later  showed  itself  in  copious 
careless  allusion  in  his  published  writings,  his  letters 
and  his  conversation. 


BIOGRAPHY  45 

He  signalized  the  completion  of  this  task  by  the 
first  real  holiday  which  he  had  taken  since  he  began 
practice.  In  September  1843  he  visited  Brussels, 
Antwerp,  Amsterdam  and  Leyden,  seeing  much 
that  was  new  to  him  on  his  first  Continental  trip, 
and  enjoying  himself  vastly ;  though  with  many 
a  backward  look  to  his  wife  and  children  at  home. 

After  this  brief  interlude,  he  set  himself  down  to 
the  translation  of  the  "  (Economia  Regni  Animalis." 
Nominally  he  was  acting  as  editor  of  a  translation 
formerly  made  by  his  friend  the  Reverend  A. 
Clissold,  but  the  labour  which  he  expended  upon 
it  amounted  to  a  re-translation.  This,  too,  was 
prefaced  by  a  long  and  thoughtful  Introduction. 
But  during  the  course  of  this,  the  second  of 
Wilkinson's  "  monumental "  translations,  he  found 
time  to  deliver  a  lecture  on  "  The  Grouping  of 
Animals." 

"  Yesterday 1 1  thought  of  you  and  your  New  York 
Lectures  and  your  anticipatory  trepidation ;  for 
last  night  I  gave  the  first  lecture  I  ever  delivered  ; 
and  not  without  pain.  It  was  before  the  Veterinary 
Medical  Association,  by  request  of  that  body.  The 
audience  was  considerable,  and  comprised  several 
scientific  men  of  good  repute,  among  the  rest, 
Erasmus  Wilson,  the  author  of  a  good  book  on 
Anatomy.  I  chose  for  my  subject  the  Grouping 
of  Animals  according  to  the  Doctrine  of  Use,  as 

1  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  J.  James,  May  17,  1845. 


46        JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

contradistinguished  from  the  classification  according 
to  the  race  of  external  resemblances  or  uniformity ; 
and  aimed  to  show  that  the  Domestic  Animals 
were  the  head  of  the  Zoological  scale,  in  opposition 
to  the  monkeys.  I  flung  out  at  the  latter  beasts, 
and  the  beastly  hypotheses  connecting  them  with 
man,  with  as  much  directness  as  I  could :  and 
did  not  mince  the  matter  that  science  itself  is  but 
a  servant,  and  must  not  be  tolerated  out  of  its 
place.  The  thing  was  well  received,  and  will  be 
published  by  and  by." 

Other  works  which  marked  this  busy  period 
were  the  writing  of  "  Remarks  on  Swedenborg's 
4  Economy  of  the  Animal  Kingdom,'  "  1846,  some 
criticism  of  the  big  work  which  he  had  last  trans- 
lated ;  an  edition  of  Swedenborg's  "  Opuscula " 
in  their  original  Latin,  1846,  followed  the  next  year 
by  a  translation  of  the  same  entitled  "  Posthumous 
Tracts  now  first  translated  from  the  Latin  of  Emanuel 
Swedenborg "  ;  a  translation  of  "A  Hieroglyphic 
Key  to  natural  and  spiritual  mysteries  by  way 
of  representations  and  correspondences "  by  the 
same  author,  1847 ;  an  edition  of  Swedenborg's 
"  (Economia  Regni  Animalis,"  in  its  original  Latin, 
1847  ;  a  translation  of  Swedenborg's  "  Prodromus 
Philosophic  Ratiocinantis  de  Infinito,"  under  the 
title  "  Outlines  of  a  Philosophical  Argument  on 
the  Infinite,  and  the  Final  Cause  of  Creation,  and 
on  the  Intercourse  between  the  Soul  and  the  Body,'* 


BIOGRAPHY  47 

1847;  and  "a  Popular  Sketch  of  Swedenborg's 
Philosophical  Works"  1847.  In  1847  he  also 
delivered  a  lecture  upon  Swedenborg's  scientific 
works  before  the  Swedenborgian  Association,  and 
published  it  under  the  title  of  "  Science  for  All." 

Only  those  who  have  carried  through  literary 
undertakings  can  recognize  how  much  of  labour 
such  a  catalogue  represents.  Let  it  be  remembered, 
too,  that  many  of  these  works  were  designed  to  take, 
and  succeeded  in  taking,  a  place  among  the  classics 
of  an  intellectual  and  critical  body. 

Garth  Wilkinson  was  largely  concerned  in  the 
foundation  of  the  Swedenborgian  Association,  being 
a  member  of  the  Provisional  Council  and  also  of  a 
small  sub -committee  for  preparing  a  draft  Constitu- 
tion and  Bye-laws.  He  also  at  this  time  contributed 
a  review  of  Clissold's  "  Principia "  to  the  "  New 
Church  Advocate."  "  The  line  of  thought  rudely 
indicated  in  that  article  "  he  writes  to  a  friend, 
44  is  at  present  running  in  my  head,  and  I  design, 
God  willing,  to  follow  it  out  at  greater  length  here- 
after, probably  in  papers  or  lectures  for  the  Sweden- 
borgian Association." 

It  is  clear  that  at  this  time,  not  only  was  Wilkin- 
son willing  to  undertake  hard  work,  but  also  that 
every  piece  of  work  which  he  did  opened  up  vistas 
of  consequent  labours,  and  that  he  was  anxious 
to  follow  them  all.  He  was,  in  fact,  at  this  time 
working  extremely  hard ;  riot,  indeed,  without 


48       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

receiving  great  appreciation  from  those  whose  praise 
was  dear ;  but  without  anything  like  proportionate 
contributions  towards  the  support  of  his  home. 
The  increase  of  his  practice  was  slow.  And  this  is 
not  surprising  to  those  who  know  how  much  of  his 
thought  and  energy  were  being  expended  in  quite 
extra-professional  channels. 

Among  other  plans  which  he  entertained  for  the 
improvement  of  his  condition  was  that  of  emigrating 
to  America.  This  idea  dated  back  as  far  as  his 
acquaintance  with  Mr  James,  who  was  greatly  in 
its  favour.  Inquiries  were  pushed  on  both  sides 
of  the  Atlantic,  but  they  ended  in  a  recognition 
that  the  step  was  one  of  grave  uncertainty,  and 
the  cherished  thought  was  laid  aside.  "  When 
my  labours  above  mentioned  (the  translation  of  the 
*  Economy  of  the  Animal  Kingdom ')  are  concluded," 
he  writes  to  Mr  James,  at  the  end  of  1844,  "  I  shall 
think  very  seriously  of  America.  We  both  wish 
to  go  to  your  country,  both  for  the  sake  of  our 
family,  and  in  order  that  we  may  have  a  freer  sphere 
of  action :  and  if  I  had  any  certainty  to  go  to, 
(which,  I  suppose,  is  impossible)  I  should  not  be 
long  in  deciding.  ...  I  entreat,  however,  that  you 
will  from  time  to  time  give  us  a  hint  on  this  subject 
of  emigration,  which  is  one  that  we  shall  not  cease 
to  keep  before  us." 

A  year  and  a  half  later,  he  refers  to  the  subject, 
writing  to  the  same  friend  : — 


BIOGRAPHY  49 

"  I  tell  you  plainly  that  if  I  were  placed  in  any 
responsible  and  satisfying  position,  by  any  joint 
effort  on  the  part  of  the  admirers  of  Swedenborg 
in  America,  the  best  of  my  mind  and  life  should  be 
devoted  to  their  service.  .  .  .  There  is  not,  to 
my  knowledge,  a  thing  under  the  moon  that  I 
would  rather  choose  to  be  connected  with,  were 
it  c  fancy's  sketch  '  that  I  were  outlining.  A  small 
fixed  income — at  any  rate  for  a  period ;  a  cottage 
out  of  New  York,  where  my  labours  might  mainly 
be  carried  on ;  for,  between  ourselves,  I  am  so 
sick  of  this  tourbillon  of  a  city,  and  of  all  cities,  that 
it  would  be  a  blessing  to  me  to  live  for  a  few  years 
rather  further  out  than  suburbs  :  labours  connected 
with  the  literature  and  philosophy  of  Swedenborg : 
and  association  with  those  who  sympathize  with 
my  pursuits ;  for  I  have  no  such  association  here ; 
no,  not  a  single  voice  to  say,  go  on.  .  .  .  All 
these  conditions  fill  up  something  which  I  should, 
nay  do,  desire  with  might  and  main ;  and  which, 
if  it  be  right,  I  do  not  doubt  of  attaining." 

The  freedom  and  diversity  of  the  American  people 
and  conditions  were  a  constant  tractor  to  him, 
during  these  years.  His  foresight  in  the  following 
extract  from  a  letter,  has  been  abundantly  justified. 

"  Your  futurity  promises  to  be  great  beyond 
what  History  has  to  show  in  the  past ;  that  is  to 
say,  if  your  souls  are  equal  to  your  chances.  A 
climate  ranging  from  the  temperate  to  the  torrid 


50       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

zone,  and  peopled  by  the  genera  of  all  civilized,  and 
nearly  all  uncivilized,  mankind,  is  a  composition 
of  circumstances  which,  when  united  to  the  fact 
that  the  whole  rest  of  the  world  calls  upon  you 
to  be  useful  to  them,  must  give  you  wealth  and 
variety  to  a  surprising  degree.  It  sometimes  seems 
to  me  that  it  would  be  no  pusillanimous  flight  from 
my  poor  position  here,  to  go  to  help  on  with  my 
feeble  arm  the  youthful  pursuits  of  a  nation  destined 
to  be  so  provisive  for  old  England,  as  well  as  for 
the  entire  world." 

But  in  May,  1849,  the  advices  of  Mr  James,  cor- 
roborated by  those  of  another  American  friend, 
finally  determined  all  hopes  and  anticipations  of  an 
emigrational  nature. 

In  following  briefly  this  part  of  Wilkinson's 
correspondence  with  Mr  James  we  have  left  un- 
recorded certain  matters  of  varying  importance. 

In  1847,  it  was  found  that  the  better  part  of 
the  doctor's  patients  lived  in  and  around  Hampstead. 
He  therefore  sold  the  remainder  of  his  lease  of  13 
Store  Street  and  followed  them  thither,  settling 
in  more  congenial  quarters,  at  25  Church  Row — a 
neighbourhood  much  more  definitely  suburban  then 
than  now,  but  his  residence  there  was  not  to  be 
a  long  one. 

In  1848,  Ralph  Waldo  Emerson  paid  his  second 
visit  to  Europe  and  brought  with  him  an  introduction 
to  Garth  Wilkinson  in  the  handwriting  of  Mr  James. 


BIOGRAPHY  51 

The  two  men  were  already  known  to  each  other  by 
their  works,  and  they  were  not  slow  in  forming  a 
warm  and  stable  friendship.  Emerson  was  already 
well  read  in  Swedenborg  and  this  new  acquaintance 
increased  his  interest  in  the  writings  :  it  would 
be  interesting  to  know  how  far  the  lecture  upon 
""  Swedenborg,  or  the  Mystic  "  was  completed  when 
Emerson  arrived  in  England,  how  much  was  added 
and  what  modifications  it  underwent,  during  his 
stay  here. 

Mrs  Wilkinson  was  away  from  home  during 
Emerson's  visit  to  London,  a  fact  to  which  we  owe 
some  letters  mentioning  meetings  with  him. 

"  I  am  going  to  spend  the  evening  with  Dr 
Carpenter,"  he  writes  on  April  4,  1848,  "  to  meet 
Emerson,  where  I  shall  also  see  Daniel  Morell  and 
other  friends.  I  find  Emerson  has  been  speaking 
warmly  of  me." 

On  April  10,  he  records  :  "  Our  party  came  off 
last  night,  and  altho'  everyone  said  they  felt  so 
strange  at  the  absence  of  Mrs  Wilkinson,  and  Mr 
Emerson  particularly  regretted  it,  as  '  he  had  counted 
upon  seeing  you,'  yet  we  made  the  best  of  it,  and 
shone  away  as  fiercely  as  we  could,  like  despairing 
stars  when  the  moon  is  out.  I  went  in  the  gig  for 
Emerson  at  half  past  3,  and  brought  him  up  to 
Williams',  where  we  sat  and  chatted  and  walked 
round  the  farm ;  then  walked  to  the  Heath  by  the 
fields,  and  enjoyed  a  most  friendly  and  interesting 


52       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

chat.  .  .  .  Emerson  delighted  me  and  everybody. 
I  must  say,  he  grows  upon  my  regard  exceedingly." 

On  the  17th  he  dined  with  friends  and  met  Emerson 
and  Crabb  Robinson.  "  The  said  Crabb  Robinson 
is  one  of  the  most  entertaining  and  interesting  old 
gentlemen  I  ever  met.  He  is  one  of  the  Council 
of  University  College,  an  old  friend  of  Mr  Tulk's 
and  one  of  the  executors  of  Flaxman.  He  knew 
Blake  well.  After  tea,  he  singled  me  out  by  miracle, 
and  entertained  me  beyond  measure  about  the 
great  artist.  It  was  he  who  gave  Blake  £5  guineas 
for  the  '  Songs  of  Innocence.'  He  warmly  invited 
me  to  call  upon  him,  when  he  will  show  me  several 
of  Blake's  originals,  both  poems  and  pictures." 

Emerson  has  been  called  "  the  sanest  of  the 
Transcendentalists  "  but  he  was  distinctly  a  dis- 
tinguished and  discriminating  Trans cendentalist ; 
and  everybody  who  has  considered  transcendentalism 
is  prepared  to  recognize  Garth  Wilkinson  as  a  member 
of  the  same  brotherhood.  Emerson  at  all  events 
recognized  him  at  sight,  and,  as  we  shall  shortly  see, 
was  ready  to  help  him,  not  only  with  valuable  literary 
encomium,  but  also  with  personal  recommendations 
as  a  lecturer.  It  is  not  too  much  to  say  that  his 
influence  at  a  critical  time  was  a  predominant 
factor  in  gaining  for  his  friend  a  literary,  social 
and  professional  recognition  which  he  then  greatly 
needed  and  which  he  thereafter  constantly  justified 
and  improved.  Emerson  gave  the  "  word  in  season  " 


BIOGRAPHY  53 

which  was  wanted :    Wilkinson  had  the  power  to 
seize  the  forelock  of  opportunity. 

Wendell  Holmes,  in  his  interesting  but  unsatisfy- 
ing biography  of  Emerson,  names  "  two  notable 
products  of  the  intellectual  ferment  of  the  Tran- 
scendental period  "  ;  The  Dial  periodical  and  Brook 
Farm.  Wilkinson's  literary  work  and  ideals  were 
closely  parallel  to  those  of  The  Dial,  though  he 
was  never  a  contributor  to  that  paper.  He  was 
now  to  give  his  mind  to  the  "  true  begetter " 
of  the  Brook  Farm  ideal.  In  America,  Brook 
Farm,  begun  enthusiastically  upon  lines  even  less 
definite,  developed  into  a  determined  attempt  to 
carry  out  the  idea  of  Fourier  in  a  working 
"Phalanstery."  An  experiment  of  six  years  (1841- 
1847)  ended  to  all  intent  in  the  destruction  of 
the  settlement  by  fire.  Like  all  the  contemporary 
efforts  to  realize  Fourier's  ideals,  it  was  a  failure. 

Fourier,  who  was  born  in  1772  and  died  in  1837, 
has  shared  the  fate  of  many  idealists.  His  purely 
abstract  views  of  human  nature  and  social  possi- 
bilities have  hindered  the  acceptance  of  certain 
excellent  and  concrete  proposals  for  the  benefit 
of  society.  He  lived  before  the  world  was  ready 
for  him ;  his  Socialistic  message  contained  some 
glaring  fallacies  and  many  wild  words  :  his  immediate 
followers  "  eat  the  air,  promise- crammed  "  ;  he 
himself  died  the  lonely  death  of  a  pioneer.  His 
name  is  unfamiliar  alike  to  the  small  shareholder 


54       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

in  the  Co-operative  Stores  and  to  the  member  of  Trade 
Unions,  both  of  whom  taste  the  fruit  of  his  labours, 
now  that  the  tree  has  been  pruned  out  of  recognition 
and  adapted  to  "  common  or  garden  "  culture. 

There  was  some  pressure  upon  Wilkinson  to  be- 
come a  Fourierist.  Social  problems  never  seemed 
more  urgent  for  solution  than  they  did  at  this  time  ; 
when  the  power  of  aristocracy  had  waned,  only  to 
be  succeeded  by  the  power  of  a  dominant  middle 
class.  Speculation  and  theory  were  busy  among  the 
Intuitionists  ;  the  strength  of  the  Utilitarians  had 
not  yet  shown  itself.  It  was  a  fit  time  for  doctrines 
such  as  those  of  Fourier,  St  Simon  and  Owen  to 
gain  adherents.  Moreover,  Mr  James'  paper,  The 
H&rbinger,  was  the  quasi-official  organ  of  Brook 
Farm :  Emerson  was  keenly  sympathetic  to  the 
movement,  though  he  was  never  a  Brook-farmer 
himself.  It  was  likely  that  Wilkinson  should  examine 
Fourier  for  himself .  We  can  trace  the  result  in  his 
correspondence,  though  it  is  scarcely  necessary  that 
this  should  always  be  quoted  at  length. 

At  first  Fourier  definitely  repelled  his  student, 
who  found  his  writings  arrogant,  pugnacious,  given 
to  petitio  principii,  impudent.  The  man  himself 
appeared  to  be  without  a  central  religious  faith  : 
lacking  this,  he  fails  of  his  intended  function  as  a 
great  scientist :  having  it,  his  powerful  perception 
of  the  universal  mathematics  of  the  sciences  might 
have  raised  him  high  indeed  :  his  experience  is  small 


BIOGRAPHY  55 

in  quantity  and  poor  in  quality :  and  Doctrine 
without  experience  is  useless.  Six  months  later 
(August  1846)  we  find  the  note  changing,  and  the 
reason  for  the  change  is  given  to  us.  Dr  Hugh 
Doherty  "  is  marrying  Fourier  to  the  New  Church, 
giving  the  former,  however,  the  masculine  character 
in  the  compact."  Fourier's  analysis  of  the  tv^!vo 
'73assions  seems  eminently  valuable  as  leading  direct 
to  the  organization  of  the  Sciences."  A  few  months 
later  the  process  of  conversion  is  clearly  going  on. 
In  June  1,  1847,  Wilkinson  finds  it  natural  that 
Fourierism  should  attract  attention  in  America, 
"  for  the  whole  thing  is  jolly  human  "  ;  moreover 
the  Fourierists  have  a  more  tangible  belief  in  im- 
mortality and  in  the  interdependence  of  the  spiritual 
and  natural  worlds  than  any  body  of  people  except 
the  Swedenborgians.  Six  weeks  later  he  writes 
"  All  you  say  of  the  Association  movement  I  echo 
from  my  heart.  It  is  the  morning  brightness  of  the 
world's  day."  He  is  reviewing  a  book  by  his  friend 
John  Morell  which  deals  with  the  subject,  and  will 
procure  a  copy  for  The  Harbinger. 

An  extract  from  a  letter  written  to  Mr  James 
on  October  1,  1847,  will  show  how  fully  Fourier 
had  by  that  time  found  himself  a  place  as  at  least 
an  accessory  to  Swedenborg  in  Wilkinson's  con- 
sideration— "  What  I  have  at  present  on  the  stocks 
for  you  is  a  paper  on  Correspondences,  which  I 
trust  ^vill  be  finished  before  the  middle  of  this  month, 


56       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

and  sent,  if  possible,  by  the  steamer  of  the  19th. 
It  will  treat  the  subject  as  a  branch  of  the  movement, 
and  not  sink  it  in  the  mere  laudation  of  Swedenborg. 
First,  I  attempt  to  show  that  the  doctrine,  as  a 
general  idea,  is  common  to  all  men  upon  the  least 
thought :  Secondly,  that  the  working  out  of  the 
Doctrine  supposes  a  vast  science,  and  not  a  set  of 
guesses  arising  from  preconceived  ideas  :  Thirdly, 
that  in  the  happier  times,  this  science  will  be  the 
crown  of  the  sciences,  from  its  intensely  practical 
character ;  because  correspondence  is  the  circum- 
stance which  draws  down  the  spiritual  world  into 
nature,  and  engenders  Creations  according  to  the 
disposition  of  the  lower  world.  I  am  not  without 
hopes  that  the  Paper  may  be  useful,  and  prepare 
some  to  carry  forward  the  views  of  Swedenborg 
and  Fourier,  instead  of  being,  as  heretofore,  the 
mere  turnspits  of  those  central  fires." 

On  February  11,  1848,  Wilkinson  writes  to  Mr 
James  to  sympathize  with  him  under  an  attack 
by  The  Boston  Magazine  upon  an  article  which  had 
evidently  associated  "  those  central  fires."  He  is 
not  surprised,  since  the  standpoint  is  not  easily 
grasped,  and  also  because  he  ventures  to  doubt 
whether  Mr  James  had  himself  sufficiently  formulated 
his  position  as  mediator  between  the  Truths  of 
Swedenborg  and  the  Truths  of  Fourier.  He  himself 
is  of  opinion  that  the  mission  of  Fourier  had  better 
be  worked  out  for  some  time  to  come,  say  for  a 


BIOGRAPHY  57 

quarter  of  a  century,  on  its  own  grounds,  separately 
from  dogmatic  theology.  When  the  theologians 
see  Fourierism  at  work,  if  it  does  work,  they  will 
not  dare  to  despise  or  denounce  it.  He  is  not 
confident  that  the  time  for  Association  has  yet  come. 

This  temporizing  attitude  was  fully  justified 
by  experience.  Swedenborgianism  has  had  quite 
enough  to  do  without  dragging  the  extravagances 
of  Fourier  behind  it.  It  must  not  be  forgotten, 
either,  that  Fourier's  doctrine,  as  crudely  stated 
by  him,  contemplated  a  period  in  which  the  natural 
passions  would  play  unbridled.  This  stage,  which 
would  clearly  have  made  practical  adherents  of 
the  doctrine  unwelcome  in  every  civilized  community, 
was  wisely  regarded  as  unnecessary  at  Brook  Farm, 
and  was  generally  ignored.  Union  with  a  system, 
which,  even  in  theory,  could  be  connoted  with 
"  Free  Love "  was  impossible  for  any  Christian 
Church. 

Writing  to  Mr  Emerson  to  bespeak  his  kindly 
consideration  for  the  Reverend  J.  R.  MorelTs  trans- 
lation of  Fourier  "  On  the  Soul "  (a  work,  by  the 
way,  in  which  he  himself  had  given  more  than 
occasional  help)  Wilkinson  says  "  I  look  upon 
Fourier  as  the  first  worthy  historian  of  the  Animal 
Man,"  an  expression  which  epitomises  the  results 
of  his  Fourieristic  studies  sufficiently  well.  We 
may  date  back  to  these  studies  some  of  the  fierceness 
with  which  he  attacked  everything  which  bore  the 


58       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

semblance  of  undue  State  interference  with  the 
individual.  Compulsory  Vaccination,  the  Contagious 
Diseases  Act,  state  qualifications  in  medicine,  pro- 
bably owe  some  of  the  sting  in  his  lash  to  the 
intense  individualism  which  Fourier  fostered. 

Ordinary  holiday  travel  is  apt  to  lose  its  salt 
in  transcription;  but  there  were  conditions  which 
make  Dr  Wilkinson's  first  visit  to  Paris  in  1848, 
interesting,  even  to-day.  In  England,  either  by 
good  luck  or  good  management,  the  Chartist  rising 
had  not  culminated  in  revolution :  but  there  was 
a  general  uneasy  feeling  that  it  was  only  the  first 
wave  of  a  storm  which  had  broken.  There  was 
trouble  throughout  Europe.  The  wave  of  demo- 
cratic action  swept  over  nearly  every  government, 
and  nowhere  more  suddenly  or  fiercely  than  in 
France.  As  he  himself  wrote  on  his  return 1  : — 

"  That  visit  is  still  engraven  on  me,  and  comes 
out  in  dream  and  reverie  with  singular  vividness. 
Nothing  would  be  more  profitable  to  me  than  to 
travel  over  Europe  just  now :  Volcanic  countries 
present  the  most  striking  as  well  as  often  beautiful 
pictures,  and  pictures  are  the  skins  and  costumes 
of  the  soul.  But  really  in  England  too  we  may 
likely  have  movement  soon ;  the  hush  and  ex- 
cessive triviality  of  politics,  the  silence  so  deep  that 
fine  sounds  are  heard  upon  it,  betoken  a  coming 
storm.  All  the  cattle,  too,  are  flying  to  shelter, 

1  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  James,  New  York,  July  28,  1848. 


BIOGRAPHY  59 

tinder  those  large  old  trees  which  may  first  call  down 
the  lightning.  Their  very  instincts  are  wrong  at 
such  a  time.  In  a  word,  England  too  is  profoundly 
sub -volcanic.  The  finest  vineyards  are  growing 
upon  it,  within  a  few  feet,  and  even  in  consequence 
of,  the  terranean  sulphor." 

When  it  was  possible  almost  to  hear  the  storm 
sing  in  the  wind  around  the  house,  the  sight  of  a 
neighbour  actually  suffering  it  was  absorbing  in 
interest.  His  brother  William  had  just  returned 
from  a  visit  to  Paris,  full  of  what  he  had  seen  and 
heard.  Garth  felt  that  he  could  not  remain  at 
home,  while  such  sights  and  sounds  were  within 
reach.  With  several  friends,  he  started  for  Paris 
about  June  2nd  and  joined  his  old  friend  Dr  Doherty 
and  Lord  Wallscourt.  A  letter  dated  June  25th 
tells  of  his  being  in  the  centre  of  what  was  going  on  : — 

"  Here  we  are,  much  tired,  but  quite  safe  and  well : 
we  arrived  at  this  place  through  sundry  obstacles, 
but  none  really  serious.  It  is  a  splendid  city, 
but  a  day  of  horrors.  Yesterday,  by  cannonad- 
ing and  musketry  no  less  than  25,000  souls 
perished  :  nothing  like  it  since  the  last  Revolution, 
or  since  the  Massacre  of  St  Bartholomew.  Two 
thousand  men  of  the  working  class  were  butchered 
in  the  vaults  of  the  Pantheon,  which  was  ankle- 
deep  in  it.  The  Musketry  has  not  ceased  all  night, 
and  itvis  interrupted  every  now  and  then  by  heavy 
Artillery.  But  we  are,  I  assure  you,  perfectly  safe 


60       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

and  I  would  not  have  missed  the  events  for  the 
world.  They  are  historical.  You  can  have  no 
idea  of  them." 

Later  he  wrote  : — 

''  The  fusillade  and  cannonade  lasted  all  yesterday, 
and  as  I  was  philosophically  reading  Doherty  on 
the  Series  this  morning,  about  half  past  two  (I  had 
waked  up  for  an  hour),  the  coups  de  canon  recom- 
menced, and  that  and  the  musketry  kept  up  very 
audibly  at  intervals  till  this  morning.  Now  I 
understand  that  the  greater  part  of  the  Barricades 
have  been  taken,  excepting  those  of  the  Faubourg 
St  Antoine  where  the  troopers  have  not  yet  been 
able  to  penetrate.  .  .  .  We  have  been  walking 
about  near  the  Tuileries  and  Louvre,  watching 
the  forests  of  bayonets  as  they  stream  towards 
the  Faubourg  St  Antoine,  where  the  rough  work 
is  to  be  done.  .  .  .  The  Churches  are  full  of  the 
dead,  and  all  the  women  are  sitting  at  the  doors, 
making  charpie  for  the  wounded.  Every  now  and 
then  we  see  them  being  brought  into  the  Ambulances. 
The  whole  is  a  scene  of  Devilry  on  a  magnificent 
scale,  as  I  can  never  hope  to  see  again.  ...  As  to 
my  personal  adventures,  I  shall  probably  write  and 
tell  you  them  when  we  return.  They  have  been 
amusing  enough,  but  you  could  scarcely  understand 
them  without  a  commmentary.  Be  assured,  however, 
that  they  belong  to  Comedy,  not  Tragedy.  .  .  . 
You  can  have  no  idea  of  what  French  pluck  is  : 


BIOGRAPHY  61 

it  is  all,  and  more  than  all,  of  what  Irish  talk  is  : 
and  that  is  a  good  deal.  In  fact  there  are  in  Paris 
hundreds  of  thousands  who  dare  to  die  at  any 
moment.  To  see  them  is  to  me  a  lesson  in  human 
nature.  I  did  not  know  that  there  were  such 
spiritual  beings,  such  ready-made  ghosts.  They 
brave  death  because  they  are  already  spirits  to  the 
finger  ends,  and  their  steel  is  immortal.  There 
are  in  Paris  about  500,000  men  under  arms  and 
fresh  troops  are  pouring  in  from  the  country 
every  hour.  Only  imagine  the  spectacle  presented 
in  every  street,  alive  as  it  is  with  red  cloth,  glitter- 
ing / 'mils  and  bayonets.  But  it  is  a  sight  that  I 
hardly  wish  you  to  see." 

"  The  insurrection  is  crushed.  .  .  .  The  streets 
are  becoming  more  free,  and  last  night  Doherty 
and  I  perambulated  the  Quays,  to  see  the  moving 
life.  The  troops  passed  us,  flushed  with  the  affair 
of  the  Faubourg  St  Antoine.  .  .  .  The  cruellest 
thing  of  all  was  the  Government  putting  forward 
the  poor  little  Gardes  Mobiles  into  the  thick  of  the 
battle,  to  fight  against  their  brother  ouvriers.  An 
officer  told  us  last  night,  that  out  of  one  battalion 
of  a  thousand,  but  fifty  men  were  left  in  service." 

"  The  prisoners  are  now  being  brought  in,  escorted 
by  masses  of  bayonets.  Many  are  lads  with  fine 
intelligent  faces  :  they  have  their  hands  tied  behind 
their  backs,  and  march  in  the  midst  of  the  troops 
with  a  sad,  heroic  air.  It  is  one  of  the  most  melan- 


62       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

choly  sights  that  the  world  presents  ;  intelligent, 
brave  hunger,  compressed  and  crushed  by  the 
bayonets  of  the  upper  Classes." 

"  I  send  you  Wallscourt's  letter  just  received. 
He,  like  ourselves,  has  heard  the  whizz  of  iron  near  his 
precious  head.  It  is  an  exciting  siffle,  but  only  alarm- 
ing when  you  are  about  three  hundred  miles  off  it." 

"  So  ends  the  first  skirmish  between  Socialism 
and  the  old  civilization.  .  .  .  Judging  the  beginning 
of  Socialism  by  the  beginning  of  Liberal  Politics, 
how  vast  is  the  preponderance  of  force  in  favour 
of  the  former  !  " 

"  We  have  seen  the  battle  streets,  and  instructed 
ourselves  thereby  .  .  .  and  seen  a  sight  for  a  life- 
time :  all  the  appearance  of  a  city  taken  by  storm. 
.  .  .  But,  after  all,  the  most  memorable  part  was 
the  fierce  imprint  left  by  the  fight.  Barricades 
everywhere,  and  the  houses  riddled  and  smashed 
and  crushed  with  hail  of  musketry  and  deadly 
strokes  of  cannon.  You  can't  conceive  it.  On 
one  house  14  feet  square  the  indefatigable  Phillips 
counted  482  musketry  hits  and  9  cannon  shots. 
„  .  .  We  took  a  cab  and  drove  to  other  in- 
teresting things  of  the  moment.  First  we  saw 
the  funeral  of  General  Negrier,  whose  remains 
were  borne  in  a  rich  car,  ornamented  with 
spears  and  tricolours.  But  the  best  sight  of  the 
day  was  the  Archbishop  of  Paris.  Noble  fellow ! 
there  he  lay,  in  his  palace,  in  his  room  of  state, 


BIOGRAPHY  63 

hung  with  sables,  adorned  with  his  insignia,  and 
reclining  upon  a  sloping  couch,  for  all  the  world 
like  a  good  spirit  sleeping  till  to-morrow's  work. 
Really,  the  French  are  great  Cooks  ;  and  whether 
it  is  a  Procession,  or  an  ovation,  or  a  chop,  or  a 
tadavre,  they  get  it  up,  and  engraft  upon  it  a  second 
nature  of  beauty  and  refinement,  in  a  style  quite 
striking  for  me.  Death  has  none  of  his  terrors 
when  they  polish  him  off  !  " 

"  Paris  is  illuminated  every  night,  in  order  to  make 
the  streets  as  light  as  possible  and  prevent  a  certain 
system  of  popping  which  goes  on  when  we  are  abed, 
after  11  o'clock  :  before  that  hour  the  daily  shooting 
season  has  not  commenced;  but,  after  that,  the 
sentinels  are  fair  game,  and  we  may  (if  not  asleep) 
hear  the  crying  out  all  night  with  admirable  dis- 
tinctness. Gardez  lien  a  vous ;  the  vous  very 
loud.  .  .  .  No  passage  during  the  night  is  allowed 
near  or  behind  them,  but  all  must  keep  the  mid 
road.  .  .  .  There  goes  the  everlasting  rappel  and 
the  measured  tread,  past  the  Tuileries." 

44  What  I  have  seen  convinces  me  of  this.  The 
Parisians  care  no  more  about  life  than  we  do  about 
a  few  coppers,  and  they  are  not  susceptible  of  fear 
for  any  length  of  time,  but  it  will  be  converted 
into  untamable  rage.  It  is  a  sad  state  of  things  ; 
but  Providence  is  over  all,  working  out  His  great 
designs  of  Peace  through  the  passions  of  hostile 
nations,  and  making  their  wrath  praise  Him." 


64       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

"  We  have  just  seen  the  Funeral  Pomp  of  the 
Victims  of  June.  .  .  .  'Twas  a  grand  military 
spectacle,  an  immense  piece  of  Cookery." 

There  were  naturally  other  and  more  normal 
sights  in  a  first  visit  to  Paris.  Enghien,  Montmorenci 
and  Versailles,  the  sewage  works  at  Montfaucon, 
the  Abattoir  and  so  forth  were  visited.  But  from 
the  account  of  such  doings  we  will  cull  only  one 
extract  as  recalling  an  almost  forgotten  name, 
that  of  Robert  Owen,  the  successful  cotton-spinner 
who  later  nigh  upon  beggared  himself  as  an  ex- 
perimental Socialist,  the  founder  of  Communities 
at  New  Lanark^  Ratahine  and  Tytherly.  He  died 
ten  years  later,  but  too  early  to  see  many  of  his 
ideas  developed  in  practice. 

"  Last  night  we  had  a  curious  party ;  Brisbane, 
Phillips,  Daly,  Doherty,  Dana,  Wallscourt  and 
Robert  Owen.  Old  Owen  is  lodging  in  this  house ; 
he  is  a  nice  quiet  old  citizen  of  the  world,  wedded 
most  amusingly  to  his  circumstances  and  parallelo- 
grams, and,  for  the  rest,  putting  his  conceit  aside, 
a  humble  enough  specimen  of  a  man.  He  always 
thinks  that  the  morrow  is  to  see  Owenism  prevalent 
over  the  world,  and  that  all  his  failures  have  been 
successes.  There  is  something  in  a  man  who  has 
received  a  life  of  stripes  and  still  does  not  know 
that  he  is  beaten." 

It  is  evident  that  as  much  experience  and  novelty 
as  possible  was  concentrated  into  a  brief  holiday 


BIOGRAPHY  65 

before    Garth    Wilkinson    returned    to    "  England, 
home  and  duty  "  on  the  sixth  of  July. 

Practice  not  satisfying  the  requirements  of  his 
growing  family,  and  all  thought  of  settling  in 
America  being  over,  it  was  necessary  that  Wilkinson 
should  supplement  his  means  by  some  extra-pro- 
fessional work.  And  this  suited  well  with  his 
propagandist  zeal  for  the  doctrines  of  Swedenborg. 
This  was  a  time  when,  in  Brougham's  words,  "  the 
schoolmaster  was  abroad "  :  philosophy  was  also 
peripatetic.  The  Society  for  the  Diffusion  of 
Useful  Knowledge,  and  the  Mechanics'  Institutes 
which  existed  and  flourished  in  almost  every  town, 
testify  to  a  keen  thirst  for  information ;  no  doubt 
the  supply  and  the  demand  mutually  stimulated 
each  other.  Certainly  the  lecture  was  a  popular 
road  to  knowledge  (or,  at  least,  to  superficial  informa- 
tion) about  the  "  thirties,"  "  forties,"  and  "  fifties  " 
of  the  last  century.  The  man  who  had  anything 
to  say,  or  any  views  to  indoctrinate,  could  not  do 
better  than  lecture  his  fellow- creatures.  It  was  an 
avenue  to  the  public  ear  which  Thackeray,  Dickens, 
Carlyle,  and  Emerson  did  not  despise ;  and  there 
were,  it  may  safely  be  said,  hundreds  of  lesser  lights 
who  illuminated  their  fellows  and  toured  the  larger 
towns  of  the  country  with  a  course  of  three  or  four 
lectures  in  their  carpet-bags.  The  lecturer  supplied 
the  night's  entertainment.  A  diagram  or  two, 
a  few  specimens,  might  be  provided ;  but  the  magic 


€6       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

lantern  and  dissolving  views  were  still  unknown. 
There  was,  in  fact,  such  a  supply  of  lecturers  that 
to  find  lucrative  engagements  in  the  best  towns  was 
not  an  easy  matter;  as  Garth  Wilkinson,  having 
issued  a  syllabus  for  a  course  of  lectures  on  the 
Physics  of  Human  Nature,  discovered.  But  he  had 
a  powerful  ally  in  Mr  Emerson,  who  had  ready 
admittance  to  just  those  audiences  which  his  less- 
known  friend  was  anxious  to  address  ;  and,  wherever 
Mr  Emerson  lectured  and  elsewhere,  there  he 
dropped  a  germinal  recommendation  of  Garth 
Wilkinson.  We  find  him  writing  in  acknowledge- 
ment. 

1  "  I  cannot  tell  you  in  the  space  of  a  letter  how 
much  your  kind  word  has  done  for  me  in  England, 
and  in  my  own  town.    For  a  long  time  I  could  not 
understand  the  place  which  I  seemed  to  occupy  in 
the  good  feelings  of  many  worthy  and  clever  persons, 
but  by  slow  degrees  the  truth  dawned  upon  me, 
that  you  had  done  it  all.     It  is  even  so,  I  assure  you. 
What  you  may  have  said,  I  know  not,  and  I  do 
not  wish  to  know ;    but  this  I  do  know,  that  the 
words,  whatever  they  were,  gained  me  a  position  that 
Lhad  not  before,  and  which  seems  to  me  unmerited 
by  my  deeds.    Nay ;    the  fruits  have  not  been  all 
opinions ;    but  many  a  coin  has  run  into  my  ex- 
chequer from  the  same  stream  of  your  kind  expres- 
sions.   And  in  a  Lecture  Tour,  I  found  that  you 

1  Letter  to  Mr  R.  W.  Emerson,  October  15,  1849. 


BIOGRAPHY  67 

had  everywhere  been  there  also,  dropping  your 
charities  from  your  own  unique  urn." 

With  such  a  powerful  endorsement,  the  syllabus 
took  more  prosperous  journeys  and  was  followed 
often  by  the  lecturer.  His  tours  included  the 
Whittington  Club  (London),  Liverpool,  Manchester, 
Birmingham,  Derby,  and  Leeds.  There  was  only 
one  accident  worthy  of  record  during  these  journeys. 
Mr  and  Mrs  Wilkinson  returned  from  Liverpool 
via  Sheffield,  and  stayed  there  some  days  with  a 
friend,  Mr  Phillips.  Driving  with  him  in  a  pony 
carriage,  they  were  about  to  visit  Montgomery 
the  poet  ;not  "  Satan "  Montgomery,  whom 
Macaulay  gibbeted,  but  James,  author  of  "  Pelican 
Island  "  and  many  hymns)  and  pulled  up  at  the  top 
of  the  hill.  The  pony  bolted  down  the  hill  again. 
The  two  gentlemen  were  thrown  out,  but  Mrs 
Wilkinson  was  carried  sixty  yards  at  full  gallop. 
They  were  all  badly  bruised,  but  were  thankful 
to  escape  alive.  Garth  Wilkinson  "  escaped  almost 
unhurt,  which  I  take  as  a  divine  sign  that  I  have 
work  to  do  yet,  and  that  I  am  to  use  my  energies 
therefor." 

The  full  syllabus  of  the  six  lectures  on  the  Physics 
of  Human  Nature,  as  delivered  at  the  Liverpool 
Mechanics'  Institute  on  August  2,  1848,  and  on 
each  succeeding  Saturday  and  Wednesday,  shows 
that  they  concerned  themselves  respectively  with  the 
brain,  the  lungs,  the  heart,  food  and  assimilation, 


68       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

the  skin,  and  the  human  form.  In  most  places,, 
however,  the  course  appears  to  have  consisted  of 
either  three  or  four  lectures.  Each  lecture  was 
in  reality  a  demonstration,  firstly,  in  elementary 
anatomy  and  physiology,  secondly  (and  this  was  the 
important  point  in  the  lecturer's  scheme),  in  the 
doctrine  of  correspondences  :  the  powder  of  doctrine 
was  conveyed  in  the  jam  of  information.  The 
line  of  thought  was  one  which  Wilkinson  followed 
and  produced,  in  more  detail  and  to  more  purpose, 
later,  when  he  wrote  "  The  Human  Body  and  it£ 
Connection  with  Man." 

The  reports  given  by  the  provincial  press  make  this 
fairly  evident,  though  it  is  amusing  to  notice  how 
the  true  gist  of  the  matter  did  not  always  attract 
attention. 

"  On  Monday  evening  last  Mr  J.  J.  Garth 
Wilkinson  delivered  a  lecture  at  the  Mechanics' 
Institute  on  the  Human  Brain.  Notwithstanding 
the  extremely  unfavourable  weather,  there  was 
a  numerous  attendance.  After  some  prefatory 
remarks,  the  lecturer  explained,  and  illustrated 
by  means  of  diagrams,  some  of  the  chief  features 
in  the  anatomy  of  the  brain.  ...  Mr  Wilkinson 
then  contended  that  the  animal  spirit  was  formed 
in  the  cortex  of  the  brain,  and  was  impelled  thence 
through  the  body  by  an  automatic  motion  of  the  brain 
itself.  He  endeavoured  to  show  that  the  brain 
respired  at  the  same  intervals  with  the  lungs,  but  in 


BIOGRAPHY  69 

a  higher  atmosphere,  and  in  a  more  eminent  degree. 
The  manner  in  which  these  doctrines  were  settled 
decided  the  fate  not  only  of  physiology,  but  of 
philosophy.  If  there  was  no  universal  body  living 
in  the  particular  body,  mankind  had  no  communion 
with  the  universe,  but  was  limited  to  solid  sensualities. 
If  there  was  no  spirit  in  the  nerves,  man  was  not 
embodied  at  all,  or  else  he  was  nothing  but  body ; 
and  in  either  of  these  cases,  the  general  laws  of 
nature  were  fixed  hypotheses  incapable  of  proof, 
or  delusions  to  be  abjured  or  forgotten.  So  we 
must  wander  between  metaphysics  and  stupidity, 
between  idealism  and  spiritualism,  without  daring 
to  look  our  souls  in  their  natural  faces — a  sad  result, 
which  could  only  be  contravened  by  a  knowledge 
and  study  of  an  animal  spirit  existing  in  the  body. 
Mr  Wilkinson  was  warmly  applauded  throughout 
and  at  the  conclusion  of  his  lecture,  of  which  the 
above  is  only  a  slight  sketch." — Manchester  Guardian, 
Wednesday,  October  11,  1848. 

.  .  .  What  then  was  the  end  in  view  of  the 
process  of  digestion  and  assimilation  ?  In  one  sense, 
it  was  the  formation  of  the  blood ;  but  in  a  higher 
sense,  it  was  that  we  might  live  in  the  world  by  means 
of  a  body  derived  from  the  world,  and  represent- 
ing the  world.  To  be  completely  men  of  nature, 
we  required  to  be  allied  to  her  by  our  constitution, 
to  marry  into  all  her  royal  families,  to  take  a  body 
from  every  kingdom,  in  order  that  we  might  enter, 


70       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

inhabit,  appreciate  and  understand  it.  The  sense 
of  taste,  and  the  alimentary  series  which  he  had 
been  considering,  afforded  us  our  lowest  or  material 
embodiment,  by  which  we  were  brought  into  fellow- 
ship with  the  mineral,  vegetable,  and  animal ;  the 
sense  of  smell  and  the  pulmonary  series,  gave  us 
our  aerial  food,  by  which  we  gained  the  freedom 
of  the  atmosphere ;  the  brain  was  the  governor 
of  assimilation,  realizing  for  the  body  all  the  aethers 
and  spaces  of  the  mundane  system,  and  introducing 
man  into  all  the  elements  of  his  being.  The  highest 
organization,  as  well  as  the  lowest,  was  omnivorous, 
eating  the  whole  universe.  The  lecturer  concluded 
by  some  remarks  on  the  psychology  of  digestion 
and  assimilation  in  nature  and  society." — Manchester 
Guardian,  Oct.  18,  1848. 

"  .  .  .  While  the  action  of  the  lungs  in  drawing 
the  venous  blood  to  the  heart  had  been  well 
canvassed,  their  action  upon  the  great  nerves  and 
spinal  marrow  had  not  been  thought  of.  The 
nerves  were  the  most  impressible  part  of  the  body ; 
and  what  could  be  the  result  of  the  expansion  to 
which  they  were  constantly  subject,  but  the  admission 
of  a  fluid  along  them  large  enough  to  fill  the  space 
created  ?  And  must  not  this  effect,  in  the  same 
instant,  amount  to  expansion  of  all  the  parts  to 
which  the  nerves  or  fluid  were  sent — viz.  to  all 
the  viscera  of  the  frame  ?  Then  the  lungs  not 
only  breathed  themselves,  but  caused  the  body  to 


BIOGRAPHY  71 

breathe  with  them.  In  the  body  there  was  an 
organic  attraction,  corresponding  to  that  of  the 
organic  world,  enabling  all  the  organs  to  take  what 
they  wanted.  These  organs,  too,  were  conveniently 
placed  for  this  purpose ;  those  needing  the  best 
blood  being  so  seated  at  the  banquet  that  they 
obtained  what  they  required  naturally  and  neces- 
sarily. They  were  classed  in  exact  rank,  each 
having  its  attraction,  seconded  by  its  place  around 
the  table.  The  order  which  this  subject  involved, 
could  it  be  fully  opened,  would  exceed  the  most 
hopeful  conception  and  beggar  the  visions  of  the 
poets.  If  each  organ,  then,  contributed  its  share 
to  the  ensemble  of  life,  each  demanded  a  special 
care  in  the  maintenance  of  health,  which  was  the 
wealth  of  life.  (Here  followed  some  strictures 
upon  tight  lacing.)  If  motion  was  the  essence 
of  the  life  of  the  organs,  all  our  articles  of  apparel 
might  fairly  be  supervised  and  limited  in  their 
pressure,  in  order  that  our  persons  might  enjoy 
their  healthful  liberty.  It  was  not  to  be  doubted 
that  in  what  we  wear,  equally  as  in  what  we  are, 
grace,  pleasure,  and  beauty  are  compatible  with 
freedom,  and  with  freedom  only.  The  lecturer 
concluded  by  some  remarks  on  the  universality 
of  the  functions  of  breathing,  or  alternation  in 
nature  and  society.  He  was  frequently  and  warmly 
applauded  throughout  the  lecture." — Derby  Mercury, 
January  17,  1849. 


72       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

Such  was  the  impression  which  the  lectures  made 
at  the  reporters'  table.  What  the  lecturer  felt 
meanwhile  is  told  in  a  letter  to  Mr  Henry  James.1 

"  As  soon  as  I  get  back  to  Hampstead,  I  will 
be  less  egotistic  in  my  communications,  and  we  will 
have  a  long  chat  upon  our  old  subjects ;  at  present 
I  am  so  engrossed  with  my  new  travellings  and 
altered  mode  of  life,  that  I  can  hardly  think  of 
anything  else. 

"  Everybody  tells  me  that  I  shall  in  a  little  time 
have  my  winter  full  of  lecturing,  and  become  popular 
in  that  line.  Certainly  I  feel  in  good  heart  at  the 
prospect  of  usefulness  which  seems  opening  before 
me. 

"  I  am  now  meditating  a  course  on  The  Kingdom 
of  Sleep.  ...  I  shall  try  to  make  it  interesting 
to  you,  so  do  not  think  that  I  am  going  into  any 
old  catalogue  work  or  copying  from  anybody. 

"  My  last  lecture  (at  Liverpool)  was  coldly  received, 
but  successful  for  all  that.  The  audience  and  the 
lecturer  seemed  to  me  like  two  stones,  trying  which 
was  the  hardest ;  but  I  am  sure  that  we  parted  good 
friends,  or  kind  foes,  whichever  you  like.  I  minced 
nothing,  and  my  poor  wife  told  me  she  shook  all 
over  to  hear  my  strange  heterodoxy  so  audible 
in  the  dead  silence." 

He  wrote  again  in  the  same  sense  to  the  same 
friend  (September  15,  1848).  After  mentioning 

1  August  25,  1848. 


BIOGRAPHY  73 

his  existing  engagements,  he  speaks  of  preparing 
other  courses  of  lectures.  His  attitude  is  "  to  see 
the  subjects  all  round ;  to  recognize  the  omni- 
presence of  truth ;  to  believe  in  the  travelling  force 
of  the  great  streams  of  God.  For  this  purpose  I 
despise  nothing,  but  whatever  be  the  subject,  I 
first  take  its  description,  and  note  its  stock ;  then 
its  plain  uses ;  then  the  divinity  and  history  of  the 
knowledge  of  it ;  its  representation  and  appearance 
in  Mythology  and  Philosophy ;  and  what  Poetry 
has  said  and  still  says  to  it ;  then  how  it  occurs 
in  language,  and  lastly  what  is  the  peculiar  view 
of  it  at  this  day;  and,  gathering  up  these  several 
informations,  I  next  try  to  see  them  as  forms  and 
uses ;  and  conclude  by  carrying  out  the  thing 
through  a  few  of  its  analogies,  in  Society,  History, 
Spirituality.  .  .  .  Even  with  my  feeble  powers, 
I  find  the  method  helpful  to  me,  and  attractive  to 
the  listeners.  And  the  fields  of  fact  which  it  opens 
are  so  immense  and  fruitful  that  one  never  thinks 
of  controversies,  but  instead  of  them,  one  invites 
others  to  better  arrangements  of  the  facts ;  calling 
forth,  not  criticism,  but  emulous  works." 

The  projected  new  courses,  as  well  as  a  scheme  for 
publishing  those  which  were  actually  delivered,  in 
book  form,  were  never  realized ;  but  his  method 
is  worthy  of  being  recorded,  as  he  clearly  followed 
it  in  other  manifestations  of  work. 

While  he  was  lecturing  in  Manchester,  Mr  Wilkinson 


74       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

was  introduced  to  Mr  James  Braid,  and  was  deeply 
interested  in  his  practice  of  hypnotism.  Mr  Braid 
was  not  satisfied  with  the  pretensions  of  magnetism  ; 
and,  on  experiment,  he  found  that  he  could  do  all 
and  more  than  those  who  followed  it,  though  he 
dispensed  with  all  their  paraphernalia  of  magnets 
and  crystals.  Mr  Braid's  conclusions  have  long  been 
generally  adopted,  but  they  then  had  all  the  charm 
of  novelty,  and,  as  reaching  toward  what  is  now  called 
the  subliminal  consciousness,  had  a  special  attrac- 
tion for  Garth  Wilkinson.  He  had  already  himself 
critically  examined  the  claims  of  Mesmerism  in  an 
extended  review  for  The  Monthly  Magazine  (vol. 
iv.  No.  23),  and  had  expressed  grave  doubts  of  its 
utility  for  the  patient,  though  he  regarded  it  as- 
opening  up  great  possibilities  in  "  pyschological 
analysis."  The  new  development,  and  the  elimina- 
tion of  the  personal  will  factor  from  its  processes, 
gave  him  a  fresh  zest  in  following  out  and  examining 
the  phenomena  and  theories  of  mental  states. 

We  anticipate  a  little  in  giving  here  an  extract 
from  a  letter1  which  illustrates  Wilkinson's  ex- 
pectation of  a  new  "  influx  "  of  power  to  the  art 
of  healing,  from  another  aspect. 

"  The  other  evening  I  met  at  Mr  A.  I.  Scott's 
(the  Professor  of  English  Literature  at  University 
College,  London)  a  Mr  Dillon  Tennant,  who  represents 
a  mode  of  curation  novel  in  these  roundabout  ages* 

1  To  Mr  H.  J.  James,  April  13,  1849. 


BIOGRAPHY  75 

He  is  a  person  of  character  and  standing,  and  may 
be  relied  on.  Whateley,  the  Archbishop  of  Dublin, 
has  witnessed  and  investigated  his  cures,  and  I 
have  seen  his  autograph  papers  attesting  the  facts. 
Mr  Dillon  Tennant  was  led  in  the  first  instance  to 
these  beneficences  by  seeing  a  friend  in  great  torture, 
unrelieved  by  other  means,  and  he  was  moved  to  say 
to  himself :  '  In  the  name  of  God,  I'll  mesmerize 
him.'  He  did  so,  and  in  a  few  minutes  the  pain 
was  gone.  After  this  he  tried  the  same  thing  for 
many  sufferers,  always  '  in  the  name  of  God,'  and 
succeeded.  .  .  .  Each  person  so  treated — and  the 
operation  sometimes  proceeded  at  the  rate  of  a  cure 
per  minute — he  bent  on  his  knees  to  give  thanks  to 
God.  .  .  .  Frequently  from  50  to  100  persons  were 
relieved  at  one  seance.  I  am  glad  to  have  seen  him, 
because  he  recalls  to  available  knowledge  certain 
old-fashioned  Prophets  and  Apostles  whom  one  too 
easily  forgets.  His,  like  theirs,  appears  to  be  the 
actual  power  of  faith  as  an  organ  and  a  substance. 
I  am  not  able,  it  is  true,  to  place  great  stress  upon 
his  cases  :  I  know  too  little  of  them ;  but  they  send 
me  to  the  Apostolical  and  Christian  cures,  which  I 
do  potentially  believe ;  and  place  before  my  eyes 
what  I  have  long  been  looking  for ;  the  Divine 
Stem  of  Healing ;  that  channel  pipe  which  runs 
with  panaceas ;  and  of  which  all  medicine,  in  its 
varieties  of  systems,  is  but  the  branches.  .  .  . 
There  are  arts  better  than  ours  ;  machines  and  ways 


76       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

better  than  ours ;    and  the  world  shows  its  Divine 
origin  in  being  large  enough  to  have  GOD  in  it  as  well 


as  man." 


In  June  of  this  year  (1849)  Wilkinson  began  his 
duties  as  writer  of  a  weekly  letter  for  The  New 
York  Tribune.  There  are  words  which  suggest 
that  the  task  was  not  congenial,  and  it  was  relin- 
quished in  December  1850. 

Meanwhile  he  found  an  important  work  to  do  for 
the  New  Church.  He  has  got  himself  entangled, 
he  says  in  a  letter,  in  a  life  of  Swedenborg,  which 
had  occupied  all  his  time ;  it  is  going  on  very  fast 
and  he  hopes  that  another  fortnight  will  disburden 
him  of  it;  he  does  it  con  amore,  having  long  been 
preparing  for  it.  He  means  to  have  it  published 
also  in  the  United  States.  He  began  it  with  the 
idea  of  a  threepenny  pamphlet  in  his  mind ;  but  it 
grew  under  his  hand  and  formed  a  very  complete 
biography,  so  far  as  the  facts  and  their  order  are 
concerned.  "  I  scarcely  venture  to  hope  that  the 
Swedenborgians  will  like  it,  because  I  have  not 
treated  Swedenborg  as  either  a  ne  plus  ultra  or  an 
idol.  It  is  not  a  philosophical  or  progressive  affair 
— professedly ;  though  I  hope  that  it  will  disabuse 
worthy  people  of  some  of  their  falacies." 

His  expectations  were  more  than  realized,  for 
the  sectarian  Swedenborgians  did  not  like  the  book — 
indeed,  they  "  vituperated  "  it ;  but  worthy  people 
who  were  seeking  candid  information  on  the  subject 


BIOGRAPHY  77 

were  otherwise  minded.  So  much  so  that  a  new 
and  slightly  amended  edition  was  called  for  in 
1860,  and  the  book  still  has  a  public  of  its  own. 
The  work  of  three  hundred  odd  pages  was  completed 
in  three  months. 

We  have  seen  that  Wilkinson  had  been  working 
hard — harder  probably  than  was  wise — for  some 
years.  For  it  must  be  remembered  that  he  added 
a  growing  quantity  of  medical  work  to  the  extra- 
ordinary literary  output  which  stands  to  his  credit. 
There  is  little  wonder,  then,  that  the  strain  showed 
itself  at  times  in  mental  depression  and  bodily 
weakness.  Mr  James  had  expressed  some  intention 
of  bringing  his  family  to  Europe  for  educational 
purposes.  In  a  letter  encouraging  this  project 
Wilkinson  writes  to  him  (August  6,  1849) : 
"  Certainly  this  is  a  splendid  climate  for  producing 
healthful  bodies,  and  a  good  thing  too ;  for  the 
quantity  of  work  required  of  an  Englishman  is  no 
trifle.  .  .  .  Then,  for  a  man  like  you,  the  Society 
is  ever  varied,  and  the  stimulation  incessant.  For 
us,  it  is  true,  this  is  not  so,  for  my  ideas  are  merely 
those  of  duty  now  ;  I  look  on  pleasure  as  impossible  ; 
and  being  like  you  (in  '  Becky  Sharp  ') l — a  man  of 
all  the  sins,  I  look  for  no  fact  but  in  that  everlasting 
work  that  crushes  out  self-thought  every  moment. 
Prison  and  task-mastering  are  the  blessings — the 
vast  blessings — of  the  day,  and  happy  is  he  over  whom 

1  A  recent  study  of  Thackeray's  heroine,  written  by  Mr  James. 


78       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

necessity  stands  with  a  rod  of  iron,  feruling  him  for 
every  moment  not  devoted  to  the  most  absorbing 
labour.  That  is  my  creed  for  myself,  and  though 
I  cannot  contemplate  it  as  an  ultimate  lot,  yet  I 
do  feel  that  its  only  limit  is  the  grave.  I  am  j  oiliest 
when  I  feel  it  most,  and  I  make  a  creed  of  it,  to  have 
all  artificial  checks  provided  against  rebellion." 

Shortly  before  this  he  had  written :  "  For  a  length 
of  time  now  I  have  been  hydropathizing,  and  with 
huge  benefit  to  mind  and  body.  'Tis  astonishing 
how  much  more  work  I  can  do,  what  absence  of 
customary  invitations  I  feel,  under  the  wishy-washy 
regime.  Even  when  I  am  ill,  I  can  still  work  on, 
and  observe  my  malaise  with  a  kind  of  upper  mind, 
as  though  my  sickness  was  ...  an  instructive 
panorama." 

Wilkinson  was  one  of  those  men  who  required 
"  a  little  wine  for  his  stomach's  sake,"  and  his 
pessimism  vanished  speedily  when  he  returned  to 
his  usual  and  very  moderate  potations.  But  the 
experience  left  him  sore  against  the  ultra-teetotal 
school.  He  wrote  a  long  account  of  Carpenter's 
prize  essay  on  Alcoholic  Liquors,  to  Mr  James,  and 
concluded  it  as  follows  :  "  The  human  chemistry 
of  the  case,  which  lies  in  the  union  of  emotions  with 
wine,  is  therefore  quite  a  different  study  from  the 
animal  chemistry.  And  as  this  is  a  matter  that  is 
of  very  great  importance  for  men's  thoughts  at 
present,  I  design  to  go  into  it  in  my  labours,  and  to 


BIOGRAPHY  79 

endeavour  to  develop  a  few  sentences  of  a  precise 
kind,  on  the  subject  of  this  unknown  human 
chemistry.  Certainly  wine  shall  not  be  blasphemed 
in  my  hearing,  without  a  strenuous  effort  to  rescue 
it  from  peril."  His  defence  of  wine  against  the 
"  blasphemies "  of  the  intemperate  temperance 
party  duly  appeared  in  The  Human  Body  (pp.  168 
et  seq.). 

During  these  years  his  dissatisfaction  in  the  tradi- 
tional practice  of  medicine  had  been  growing  in  Wil- 
kinson's mind.  The  doctrine  of  Hahnemann  had  been 
brought  to  his  notice  by  Mr  James,  by  Mrs  Carter, 
another  American  friend,  and  by  the  general  interest 
which  followed  the  introduction  of  its  practice  into 
England  by  Dr  Quin  in  1837.  He  had  read  what  works 
he  could  find  on  the  subject,  and  had  experimented 
in  the  treatment  inculcated  by  them  more  and  more 
extensively,  until  he  must  be  regarded  as  a  staunch 
Homoeopath  in  1850.  His  works,  words,  and  ideas 
in  this  connection  will  best  be  considered  in  a  separate 
chapter.  But  his  conversion  was  an  event  in  his 
life  too  important  to  be  passed  over  without  mention 
here ;  since,  as  we  have  seen,  it  reconciled  him  to 
practice  and  made  him  happy  in  it.  His  clientele 
increased  at  once,  and  he  must  now  be  regarded 
from  a  changed  point  of  view.  Up  to  1850,  he  was 
a  writer,  specializing  upon  theology  from  a  Sweden- 
borgian  outlook,  who  practised  physic  for  a  main- 
tenance ;  from  that  time  forward  he  was  a  physician 


80       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

who  found  time  to  write  upon  the  old  subjects. 
Only  two  more  translations  from  Swedenborg's 
writings  came  from  his  pen,  and  they  were  separated 
by  an  interval  of  more  than  thirty  years. 

Hitherto  his  medical  and  scientific  knowledge 
had  tinctured  his  work  for  the  New  Church.  His 
vital  interest  in  that  Church  never  flagged :  but  we 
have  now  reached  a  period,  and  a  long  one,  in  which 
the  interest  seldom  showed  itself  in  his  writings, 
except  as  illustrative  of  matters  medical  and 
scientific.  This  "  second  manner "  lasted,  indeed, 
until  he  virtually  retired  from  practice ;  or,  rather, 
encouraged  practice  to  retire  from  him.  But  there 
was  a  transition  period,  and  in  it  he  produced  what 
was,  perhaps,  of  all  his  writings,  the  work  most 
fully  characteristic  of  the  man. 

This  book,  "  The  Human  Body  and  its  Connection 
with  Man,  illustrated  by  the  Principal  Organs," 
was  a  substitute  for  the  publication  of  his  lectures  ; 
but  it  represents  those  lectures  as  elaborated  and 
enriched  by  the  reflections  of  the  author  since  they 
had  been  delivered.  The  first  mention  of  it  occurs 
in  a  letter  to  his  father  in  July  1849 ;  but  a  letter 
to  Mr  James,  at  the  end  of  the  same  year,  enters 
into  more  detail. 

"  This  is  the  first  work  on  which  I  at  all  stake 
myself,  and  I  am  proportionately  anxious  to  put  the 
last  hand  to  it.  On  nothing  else  have  I  accumulated 
labour.  And,  as  you  are  to  be  its  patron  saint, 


BIOGRAPHY  81 

I  am  particularly  tremulous  on  your  account  also. 
The  field  is  a  new  one — that  of  the  Correspondences 
of  the  Human  Frame;  I  do  not  mean  the  spiritual 
correspondences,  but  the  continuations  of  it  into 
nature,  into  industry,  into  society,  and  into  mind. 
I  feel  that  the  physical  man  is  the  keystone  of  the 
arch  of  the  arts,  and  that  to  open  his  truths,  be  it 
ever  so  little,  is  to  prepare  the  way  for  that  Artist 
Man  whom  you  herald,  who  really  dwells  now 
in  the  physical  man  as  a  soul,  and  who  is  to  come 
forth  one  day  as  an  Animated  Society.  True  body 
is  the  easiest  way  of  altering  mind,  and  I  am  deeply 
anxious  to  use  it  as  such.  Once  dip  into  its  Lake 
of  Truths,  I  see  no  controversies  ahead — nothing 
but  reconciled  parties  and  co-operating  sinews. 
My  work,  however,  will,  I  fear,  be  only  suggestive ; 
but  even  that  will  be  something." 

Of  the  need  of  some  such  work  as  he  is  doing,  he 
wrote x : — 

"  When  I  look  at  the  disconnection  in  science 
between  man  and  his  own  body,  I  cease  to  wonder 
at  the  difficulty  the  great  Emerson  has  in  thinking 
of  an  incarnate  God.  Why,  the  philosophers  have 
never  yet  got  to  think  of  man  himself  as  incarnate. 
They  admit  either  the  flesh  without  the  spirit,  or 
the  spirit  without  the  flesh.  The  thought  has  yet 
to  come  which  will  combine  the  two.  The  present 
thought  admits  no  incarnations  whatever — not  even 

1  Letter  to  Mr  H.  J.  James,  January  25,  1850. 

F 


82       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

those  of  lice  and  flies.    It  has  two  ends,  ghosts  and 
minerals,  but  no  meaning,  which  are  flesh." 

"  The  Human  Body  "  was  published  in  May  1851, 
and  dedicated  to  Mr  James.  It  was  published  by 
subscription.  The  aim  and  method  of  the  work 
appear  in  Wilkinson's  "  Proposal  for  Publishing." 
In  it  he  says  :  "  The  human  body,  as  an  object 
of  science,  has  hitherto  been  the  property  of  one 
profession ;  it  has  been  studied  only  after  death, 
when  it  is  the  reverse  of  human,  to  afford  light  to 
medicine,  which  takes  no  cognisance  of  it  but  when 
diseased.  Death  has  slyly  proffered  his  torch  to 
the  art  of  healing.  A  different  study,  not  super- 
seding yet  subjugating  the  former,  is  needed  to 
connect  the  body  with  life,  health,  and  business ; 
a  study  that  brings  the  plain  to  illustrate  the  obscure, 
and  the  common  to  interpret  the  extraordinary. 
To  further  such  a  study  is  the  object  of  the  present 
work,  in  which  we  hope  to  show  by  examples  that 
the  anatomy  of  man  is  other  than  that  of  the  dis- 
secting room,  and  that  the  knife  is  the  feeblest 
although  the  first  instrument  for  opening  the 
mysteries  of  the  human  being." 

A  review  of  the  book  in  the  New  York  Daily 
Tribune  says  that  it  was  probably  the  first  attempt 
ever  made,  by  a  professional  man,  to  connect  the 
technical  facts  of  anatomy  and  physiology  with  the 
truths  of  Revelation.  "  At  all  events  it  is  the 
only  one  whose  superb  and  lavish  ability  entitles 


BIOGRAPHY  83 

it  to  an  enduring  mention.  Ordinary  men  have 
no  beliefs.  They  have  only  knowledge.  .  .  .  Yet 
this  is  precisely  Dr  Wilkinson's  infatuation :  he 
evidently  believes  what  other  people  only  remember. 
His  memory  is  manifestly  and  wholly  subservient 
to  the  highest  intellectual  uses.  Nothing  comes  into 
it  by  the  portals  of  sense  which  is  not  immediately 
divested  of  its  dusty  garments,  and  elevated  into 
the  chambers  of  the  understanding,  these  to  be 
associated  with  .  angelic  company.  He  diligently 
gathers  all  that  the  best  men  and  the  most  sacred 
books  have  said  of  God  and  man,  but  no  symptoms 
of  congestion  appear,  because  the  knowledge  is 
instantly  sublimated  into  belief,  and  thence  descends 
in  copious  showers  of  influence  upon  all  the  fields 
of  practical  life.  .  .  .  Such  exactly  is  Dr  Wilkinson's 
force — the  force  of  a  man  who  is  alive  with  glowing 
life  from  the  centre  of  his  intellect  to  the  circum- 
ference. When  such  a  man  accordingly  descends 
into  the  arena  of  the  schools,  we  must  not  be  surprised 
to  see  teaching  assume  a  novel  aspect,  and  old  truths 
beam  forth  with  quite  original  beauty.  Those  who 
wish  an  intellectual  treat  of  the  very  highest  de- 
scription, a  banquet  in  which  every  dish  is  made 
to  yield  the  subtlest  and  most  unexpected  aromas, 
by  a  cooking  the  most  expert  and  masterly  ever 
practised,  may  safely  be  referred  to  the  book  whose 
name  we  have  already  cited." 

"  The  Human  Body  "  was  widely  read ;    indeed 


84       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

it  probably  attained  a  more  general  repute  than  any 
other  of  Wilkinson's  works.  A  second  edition  was 
published  in  1860.  Its  original  appearance  was 
somewhat  delayed  by  an  interruption  in  the  writing 
of  it.  Wilkinson  received  a  commission  for  a  trans- 
lation. It  appeared  in  1852,  "  The  Generative 
Organs  considered  Anatomically,  Physically,  and 
Philosophically.  A  posthumous  work  of  Sweden- 
borg,  translated  from  the  Latin." 

At  the  end  of  1850  the  Wilkinsons  moved  againr 
to  Sussex  Lodge,  St  John's  Wood.  The  house  is 
nearly  opposite  to  4  Finchley  Road,  the  home  for 
nearly  fifty  years,  where  Dr  Wilkinson  died. 

Prospects  were  beginning  to  look  brighter.  A 
letter  to  his  father  reports,  in  June  1851,  "  Our 
move  to  Sussex  Lodge  has  been,  so  far,  a  very  good 
thing  for  us  ;  my  practice  has  greatly  increased,  and 
our  connections  are  both  extended  and  heightened. 
We  have  indeed  constant  struggles  and  wants,  but 
we  hope  that  the  turn  in  our  long  lane  of  cares  may 
be  near  at  hand."  It  was  so.  The  practice  soon 
demanded  and  justified  a  carriage :  and  whatever 
care  may  have  sat  behind  the  rider  was  not  due 
to  want  of  a  sufficient  income. 

A  large  and  growing  medical  practice  does  not 
conduce  to  steady  literary  work;  moreover,  the 
study  necessary  to  practise  homoeopathy  is  consider- 
able and  absorbing.  But  if  for  a  time  Wilkinson's 
pen  was  unproductive,  he  was  using  what  leisure 


BIOGRAPHY  85 

he  had  in  preparing,  perhaps  unconsciously,  for 
future  literary  work.  The  Norse  languages  had 
always  attracted  him.  Perhaps  it  was  an  hereditary 
leaning,  for  his  family  is  originally  of  Danish  extrac- 
tion. He  gives  a  short  account  of  his  studies  in 
the  Preface  to  "  Voluspa,"  writing  in  November 
1897  :  "At  the  end  of  a  long  life  we  yearn  back  and 
think  biographically,  and  gentle  readers  will  forgive 
a  retrospect.  So  I  tell  them  the  story  of  my 
love  of  the  far  North.  It  is  between  forty  and 
fifty  years  since  I  enjoyed  my  first  acquaintance  with 
the  Eddaic  Books.  Tegner's  '  Frithiof '  and  his 
fine  translation  of  '  Vafthrudhuismal '  were  my 
lures  into  further  reading.  Through  friends  in 
Scandinavia  the  old  Icelandic  tongue  came  before 
me.  The  Lord's  Prayer  read  in  Icelandic  made 
me  say  to  myself,  *  This  is  my  language.'  Rektor 
P.  A.  Siljestrom,  the  schoolmaster  of  Sweden,  and  a 
master  scholar  of  his  country,  a  man  of  enduring 
scientific  and  liberal  genius,  read  to  me  my  first 
line  of  grammatical  Old  Norse.  I6n  A.  Hjaltalin, 
my  dear  Icelander  who  found  me  in  Reykiavik, 
became  my  teacher  in  London,  and  carried  me 
through  the  Eddas. 

Dr  Siljestrom  was  a  great  friend  of  Wilkinson's. 
When  he  left  England  for  the  United  States,  armed 
with  an  introduction  to  Mr  James,  he  left  his  young 
wife  at  Hampstead  with  his  English  friends. 
Wilkinson  "  took  the  opportunity  of  her  presence 


86       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

to  learn  a  little  Swedish."  They  had  at  this  time 
a  German  guest  also,  Mr  Neuberg,  a  friend  of  both 
Emerson  and  Carlyle.  On  June  24,  1837,  Wilkinson 
wrote  to  Mr  Emerson  : — 

"  I  have  requested  Mr  Clapp  to  send  you  a  copy 
of  my  work  on  '  The  Human  Body  and  its  Connexion 
with  Man,'  just  published ;  it  is,  I  hope,  in  a  double 
sense,  my  last  book.  I  owe  you  a  grudge  for  having 
in  some  part  been  a  party  to  the  book  :  for  your 
good  opinion  of  my  former  labours  has  had,  I  am  sure, 
a  certain  egging  effect  upon  me  in  this.  Perhaps 
you  will  be  so  kind  as  to  be  a  little  sour  and  un- 
satisfactory  about  the  present,  that  you  may  con- 
tribute to  warn  me  away  from  the  strand  of 
scribbling. 

"  My  pursuit  for  relaxation  this  long  time  past 
has  been  Northern  Literature  and  Languages, 
Swedish,  Danish,  and  Icelandic ;  and  the  contents 
which  these  three  bags  carry  are  attractive  to  me 
at  present.  Mr  Carlyle  also  is  as  deep  as  an  old 
laundry- woman  in  these  rich  old  clothes." 

But  his  estimate  of  the  contents  of  "  those  three 
bags  "  was  much  higher  than  Carlyle's.1 

"  I  have  lately  been  reading  Carlyle's  Essay  on 
Odin  in  the  'Hero-Worship,'  in  pursuance  of  my 
present  Scandinavian  studies.  What  a  useful 
affair  it  doubtless  was,  but  what  a  poor  thing  it  is  ! 
He  admits  the  inimitableness  of  this  mythology, 

1  Letter  to  Mr  H.  I.  James,  January  25,  1850. 


BIOGRAPHY  87 

and  yet  humbly  craves  at  last  of  his  readers,  to 
consent  to  admit  that  the  authors  of  it  were  not 
downright  fools !  The  prisoner  at  the  bar  has 
beaten  the  Greeks  in  majesty  and  depth,  and  all 
the  thoughts  of  men  in  invention,  pray  you,  Gentle- 
men of  the  jury,  let  the  verdict  be — '  No  jackass  ! ' 
...  It  is  perfectly  clear  that  Carlyle  has  no  insight 
into  the  circumstances  attending  the  production 
of  these  wonders  of  the  Fore-time,  or  he  would  never 
have  said  that  they  were  the  first  rude  but  powerful 
conceptions  of  the  earliest  gazers  upon  nature. 
We  see  here  that  he  has  been  born  in  an  atmosphere 
fetid  with  Scotch  philosophers,  which  imposed  upon 
him  the  belief  in  the  original  savagery  of  man." 

His  strong  views  on  the  receptivity  of  abori- 
ginal man  found  full  expression  in  "  Revelation, 
Mythology,  Correspondences  "  (1887)  and  in  "  The 
African  and  the  True  Christian  Religion,  his  Magna 
Charta  "  (1892). 

These  studies  were  no  temporary  amusement. 
In  1855,  Wilkinson  writes  to  Mr  James  :  "  I  am 
busy ;  but  still  I  find  it  necessary  to  interpolate 
my  active  life  with  some  sort  of  recreation — with 
some  fad  entirely  apart  from  physic.  My  Icelandic 
studies  furnish  me  with  this ;  and  I  am  going  to 
send  you,  for  my  name- sake,1  a  translation  of  one 
of  the  Eddaic  songs — '  Hamar's  Heimt ' — Thor's 

1  One  of  Mr  James'  sons  was  christened  "  Garth  Wilkinson"  ;  one 
of  Wilkinson's  daughters  was  "  Mary  James." 


88       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

recovery  of  his  hammer.  Belonging  to  the  child- 
hood of  our  races,  it  will  serve  for  our  children, 
as  well  as  for  our  old  gentlemen — that  is  to  say, 
both  for  the  Boy  and  Old  Henry.  I  have  in  my 
vicinity  a  young  sculptor  of  great  promise,  for  whom 
I  have  undertaken  to  make  a  few  versions  of  these 
wonderful  songs,  he  intending  to  illustrate  them ; 
and  it  is  not  impossible,  if  life  and  valour  be  given 
for  the  next  ten  years,  that  I  may  even  essay  the 
terribly  ambitious  work  of  a  translation  of  the 
'  Elder  Edda,'  a  work  which,  if  well  done,  would 
surprise  literature ;  give  Greece  and  Rome  a  thwack 
unexpected,  but  wanted  long ;  and  shed  a  new 
light  upon  the  English  language.  It  has  for  me  also 
an  interest,  in  that  it  is  the  earliest,  the  most  hoar 
phenomenon,  in  the  morning  of  our  ages ;  while 
Swedenborg,  also  of  Scandinavia,  is  the  latest  hour 
of  the  same  day ;  and  he  who  knows  of  both  hears 
deep  calling  unto  deep." 

For  the  main  part,  however,  the  practice  of  his 
profession  gives  him  enough  to  do.  "  When  you  pay 
your  promised  visit,"  he  writes  to  Mr  James,  in 
May  1853,  "  I  do  not  think  that  you  will  find  me 
altered  to  the  extent  that  you  have  heard.  It  is 
true  I  am  now  in  a  new  pursuit  which  excludes  all 
old  ones  as  active  guests — though  it  leaves  them 
as  subjects  on  which  I  rejoice  to  think  that  advance- 
ment is  being  made  by  others.  Surely,  my  dear 
Henry  James,  you  would  not  cramp  me  by  insisting 


BIOGRAPHY  89 

that  I  shall  study,  or  without  study  swallow,  your 
great  batches  of  universals,  when  I  solemnly  tell  you 
that  they  are  out  of  my  line.  .  .  .  Respect  the  blink- 
eyedness  of  the  doctor  who,  in  comparison  with 
curing  an  old  cough  or  a  chronic  gouty  limb,  thinks 
astronomy  and  theology  to  be  for  him  of  little 
moment,  and  of  the  cobbler  who,  for  fear  of  diverting 
his  skill  from  boot-soles,  can't  be  got  to  look  at 
the  moon  through  the  finest  telescope  that  was  ever 
framed.  I  am  that  Doctor  and  Cobbler,  I  never 
could  do  two  things  at  once,  and  thence  each  pursuit, 
with  me,  implies  the  temporary  incapacity  for 
others." 

There  is  something  entertaining  in  Garth 
Wilkinson's  plea  to  be  treated  mercifully  as  the 
possessor  of  "a  one-storeyed  intellect."  In  this 
very  letter  he  shows  the  keenest  interest  in  the 
spiritualism  of  that  day.  "  The  ferment  all  this 
produces  shows  that  some  great  stirrer  is  a-troubling 
the  waters ;  and,  for  my  part,  though  I  have  not  been 
near  the  spirits,  I  am  quite  convinced,  and  would 
avow  it  publicly,  that  the  present  movement  is 
Providential  in  its  best  parts,  in  something  more 
than  the  sense  of  permission :  that  it  also  belongs 
to  the  age ;  inasmuch  as  it  is  cheap,  easy,  and  ex- 
peditious  Revelation,  or  the  Spiritual  World  for  the 
Million,  and  that  its  lowness  is  the  strong  point  and 
•claim  about  it." 

It  appears  that  Wilkinson  was  firm  so  far  as 


90       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

abstaining  from  attendance  at  seances  was  concerned  ; 
but  for  years  he  lived  in  an  atmosphere  of  "  spiritual- 
ism." Those  nearest  to  him  were  in  association 
with  mediums  and  were  moved  to  execute  spirit- 
drawings.  His  brother  William  was  for  many  years 
editor  of  the  Spiritual  Magazine;  and,  in  1856, 
Garth  Wilkinson  himself  edited  a  number  of  the 
Spiritual  Herald.  We  shall  soon  reach  his  writing 
of  the  "  Improvisations  from  the  Spirit."  But  he  was 
to  escape  from  this  "  obsession  "  with  a  modified 
opinion  and  a  hearty  dislike  for  the  whole  subject. 
His  final  attitude  is  plain.1  "  I  do  not  deny,  but 
prize,  in  their  place,  spontaneous  motions  of  the 
spiritual  world  upon  and  in  the  natural  world. 
If  there  be  a  spiritual  world  in  proximity  with 
our  world,  such  manifestations  are,  some  of  themr 
according  to  order,  and  no  one  is  chargeable  with 
them.  On  the  other  hand,  solicited  intercourse 
with  the  spiritual  world  is,  to  me,  a  mistake,  and, 
with  my  convictions,  it  would  be  a  sin  to  take  part 
in  seances,  or  any  other  means,  in  such  solicitation." 
He  refused  to  discuss  either  his  own  experiences 
or  the  general  subject,  in  conversation  ;  saying  only 
that  he  had  gone  into  the  matter  extensively  and 
wished  to  say  nothing  about  it. 

In  a  letter  to  Mr  James  we  get  a  glimpse  of  Wilkin- 
son's political  views  at  this  time  (July  1850).     They 

1  Quoted  without  reference,  in  the  University  Magazine,  June  1879,, 
Art.  "  J.  J.  Garth  Wilkinson." 


BIOGRAPHY  91 

were,  like  most  of  his  views,  highly  eclectic.  Sir 
Robert  Peel  had  just  died  by  accident,  and  the  Duke 
of  Wellington  was  not  likely  to  be  long  spared  to 
the  country. 

"  No  one  so  much  represented  England  as  he 
[Sir  Robert  Peel].  Even  the  soubriquet  of  '  Perfidious 
Albion '  was  justified  in  its  best  sense  in  him.  A 
man  of  continual  expediency,  he  could  never  be 
bound  to  party  save  as  the  tool,  and  not  the  master 
of  ever-shifting  occasion.  He  got  into  parties, 
but  his  practical  tendencies  speedily  won  them  and 
broke  them  up.  And  in  this  he  was  seconded  by 
the  '  Iron  Duke,'  who,  apparently  inflexible,  is 
really  flexible  as  a  shirt  of  mail ;  which,  impenetrable 
from  without,  is  yet  jointed,  and  bends  about  to 
every  requirement  of  the  body  politic.  These  two 
men  have  been  the  two  great  Revolutionists,  more 
Anglico,  and  have  succeeded  in  breaking  up  the  old 
associations  of  parties  to  such  an  extent,  that  many 
years  must  elapse  before  a  new  party  can  be  formed 
with  any  chance  of  coherence  beyond  the  attainment 
of  temporary  objects.  For  to  neither  of  them  were 
political  combinations  regarded  as  hearty  clubs  with 
banners,  watchwords,  and  c  no  surrender '  tunes ; 
but  simply  as  means,  more  or  less  useful,  but  subject 
to  be  superannuated  and  discarded  as  soon  as  ever 
the  circumstances  altered.  They  suffered  much 
from  the  hot  fragments  of  parties  which  they  them- 
selves had  broken  to  atoms,  but  Providence  had 


92       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

given  them  both  prepared  skins  of  courage  and 
apathy  ;  and  they  held  out  their  ground  until  Sir 
Robert's  death,  as  the  two  best  defended  and  least 
offensive  men  in  England.  Their  graves  will  be 
honoured  by  no  majority  or  minority,  but  by  the 
whole  legislature  and  people  of  England." 

This  was  the  principle  of  Wilkinson's  own  method. 
His  opinions  were  strong,  and  he  supported  them 
strongly ;  but  he  had  kept  means  ever  in  their 
place,  and  was  always  ready  to  avail  himself  of  new 
ones,  but  upon  the  means  in  use  at  any  one  time  he 
concentrated  his  attention.  It  may  have  left  him 
open  to  a  charge  of  inconsistency  at  the  hands  of 
the  superficial.  That  concerned  him  not  at  all, 
Nor  was  he  able  to  conceive  of  anything  except  God, 
His  laws  and  Word,  as  exempt  from  being  some  day 
"  superannuated  and  discarded."  He  could  calmly 
foresee  a  time  when  even  Swedenborg's  message 
would  prove  but  provisional  and  preparatory  for 
another.  He  was  essentially  an  individualist  and  an 
eclectic.  He  was  not  nullius  addictus  jurare  in  verba 
magistri;  rather,  he  was  ready  to  hail  any  man  as 
his  master  so  long  as,  and  only  so  long  as,  he  could 
teach  and  help  him  forward  in  the  matter  in  hand. 
The  wise  strong  man  has  only  one  principle,  the  glory 
of  his  Maker ;  and  his  best  way  of  furthering  that 
is  the  education  of  his  own  character.  Consistent 
in  that,  he  can  afford  to  appear  inconsistent  in  all 
else. 


BIOGRAPHY  9S 

As  to  politics,  certainly,  Wilkinson  was  to  be  found 
in  various  companies  at  various  times.  Mr  Francis 
Newman,  brother  of  the  Cardinal,  hailed  him  as  a 
Republican  in  1867  :  neT  describes  himself  as  a  Con- 
servative, in  1885.  But  his  friend  Mr  Matheson 
defined  his  position  more  accurately,  in  1888 :  "I 
am  Mathesonian  in  my  political  views,  which  I 
think  have  certain  dissonances  with  Wilkinsonianism 
— that  is  to  say,  with  a  certain  radically  liberal 
conservatism." 

In  1854,  England  had  two  great  subjects  to  think 
about,  the  cholera  and  the  Crimean  War  :  the  two 
insisted  upon  being  considered  together  in  the 
prevalence  of  cholera  among  our  soldiers  and  sailors 
in  the  Crimea. 

Wilkinson  saw  his  opportunity  and  wrote,  "  War, 
Cholera,  and  the  Ministry  of  Health,  an  Appeal  to 
Sir  Benjamin  Hall  and  the  British  People."  In 
the  form  of  an  open  letter,  it  promulgates  homoeo- 
pathy as  the  medicine  of  the  future.  With  its 
medical  side  we  are  not  at  present  concerned ;  but 
the  reasoning  power,  the  good  temper,  the  wit  and 
aplomb  which  Wilkinson  showed  in  its  pages  brought 
him  many  readers.  As  a  reviewer  said,  "  If  a  man 
wants  to  see  the  faculty  horsewhipped,  or  tossed 
in  a  blanket,  or  tried  at  the  bar,  or  dressed  in  a  cap 
and  bells  ...  we  advise  him  to  read  Dr  Wilkinson's 
'  Ministry  of  Health.'  It  is  a  most  original  piece 
of  medical  remonstrance,  dressed  up  in  festive 


94       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

style,  like  a  Christmas  box,  or  a  New  Year's  Day 
gift.  It  contains  both  facts  and  fun  and  sharp 
surgical  satire,  with  good  humour  combined." 
Statistics  are  relieved  by  sarcasm ;  pathos  gives 
place  to  suggestions  in  practice :  it  even  deals  in 
prophecy  which  has  since  been  fulfilled.  For  it 
foretells  the  medical  woman.  "  Dr  Blackwell !  is 
already  but  one  of  a  band  of  which  Florence  Night- 
ingale is  the  English  chief,  and  some  of  the  best 
woman's  blood  in  this  country  is  speeding  to  the 
field  of  war  to  do  woman's  work  as  it  has  not  been 
done  before  since  the  days  of  Jeanne  d'Arc.  I 
will  not  trust  myself  to  think  or  to  feel,  while  the 
Lord  thus  calls  up  His  chosen  into  their  long  empty 
places,  lest  the  brain  should  be  drowned  in  the  too 
great  hour.  Only  I  will  say,  it  rejoices  me  that 
medicine  (call  it  nursing  if  you  please,  but  it  will 
not  stop  there)  is  one  thing  which  has  unchained  the 
feet  of  woman,  and  cast  away  her  Chinese  shoes." 
"  The  Ministry  of  Health  "  is  a  contribution  to  a 
controversy  which  now  and  again  still  comes  before 
the  public,  and  as  such  it  is  forgotten ;  but,  as  a 
long  and  sustained  flight  in  true  humour,  it  deserves 
readers  and  admirers  at  the  present  time. 

In  this  book  Wilkinson  advocated  registration 
of  all  who  chose  to  practise  physic.  He  returned 
more  seriously  to  the  same  subject  in  an  article 
which  he  wrote  for  the  British  Journal  of  Homceo- 

1  The  first  woman  M.D.  of  the  United  States. 


BIOGRAPHY  95 

under  the  title  of  "  Unlicensed  Medicine " 
in  1855. 

In  1856  he  produced  a  curious  pamphlet,  "  Painting 
with  both  Hands,  or  the  Adoption  of  the  Principle 
of  the  Stereoscope  in  Art,  as  a  Means  to  Binocular 
Pictures,"  under  the  pseudonym  John  Love.  The 
idea  of  the  pamphlet  was  that  "ambidextrous  or 
two-handed  painting  will  realize  in  art  also  binoculars 
or  two-eyed  pictures.  .  .  .  The  suggestion  of  such 
a  method,  involving,  as  it  does,  a  new  and  difficult 
education,  would  be  monstrous  if  painting  remained 
as  it  was  ;  but  this,  as  I  have  said,  is  no  longer  the 
case ;  for  the  stereoscope,  by  beating  it  on  its  own 
basis,  has  shown  that  it  is  not  true  to  Nature,  and 
moreover  has  demonstrated  where  the  failing  lies." 

But  the  suggestion  itself  was  based  on  a  fallacy : 
Art  does  not  aim  to  produce  an  image  such  as  is  seen 
through  the  stereoscope,  but  such  as  is  seen  through 
the  eye ;  and  that,  not  in  its  entirety,  but  with 
selective  power.  "  Painting  with  both  Hands " 
contains,  however,  an  amusing  hit  at  Ruskin,  who 
"  hops  along  on  one  leg  to  criticism  with  a  power 
and  rapidity  quite  new ;  and  sometimes  moves  so 
fast  that  his  hopping  even  mimics  progress."  The 
pamphlet  did  not  found  a  new  school  of  painting. 

Wilkinson's  next  work  was  "  Improvisations  from 
the  Spirit "  (1857).  An  account  of  it  is  given  in 
Gilchrist's  "Life  of  William  Blake"  (vol.  i. 
p.  382). 


96       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

"  A  very  singular  example  of  the  closest  and  most 
absolute  resemblance  to  Blake's  poetry  may  be  met 
with  (if  only  one  could  meet  with  it)  in  a  phantas- 
mal sort  of  little  book,  published,  or  perhaps  not 
published,  but  only  printed,  some  years  since,  and 
entitled  '  Improvisations  of  (sic)  the  Spirit.'  It 
bears  no  author's  name,  but  was  written  by  Dr 
J.  J.  Garth  Wilkinson,  the  highly  gifted  Editor 
of  Swedenborg's  writings,  and  author  of  a  Life  of  him, 
to  whom  we  owe  a  reprint  of  the  poems  in  Blake's 
'  Songs  of  Innocence  and  Experience.'  These 
improvisations  profess  to  be  written  under  precisely 
the  same  kind  of  spiritual  guidance,  amounting  to 
abnegation  of  personal  effort  in  the  writer,  which 
Blake  supposed  to  have  presided  over  the  produc- 
tion of  his  '  Jerusalem,'  etc.  The  little  book  has 
passed  into  the  general  (and,  in  all  other  cases,  richly 
deserved)  limbo  of  the  modern  '  Spiritualistic ' 
muse.  It  is  a  very  thick  little  book,  however  un- 
substantial its  origin  ;  and  contains,  amid  much  that 
is  disjointed  or  hopelessly  obscure  (but  then,  why 
be  the  polisher  of  poems  for  which  a  ghost,  and  not 
even  your  own  ghost,  is  alone  responsible  ?),  many 
passages,  and  indeed  whole  compositions  of  a  remote 
and  charming  beauty,  or  sometimes  of  a  grotesque, 
figurative  relation  of  things  of  another  sphere,  which 
are  startlingly  akin  to  Blake's  writings — could  pass, 
in  fact,  for  no  one's  but  his.  Professing,  as  they  do, 
the  same  new  kind  of  authorship,  they  might  afford 


BIOGRAPHY  97 

plenty  of  material  for  comparison  and  bewildered 
speculation,  if  such  were  in  any  request." 

Wilkinson's  own  account  of  the  genesis  of  this 
book  is  as  follows  (quoted,  without  reference,  in 
The  University  Magazine,  June  1879) : 

"  A  theme  is  chosen  and  written  down.  So  soon 
as  this  is  done,  the  first  impression  upon  the  mind 
which  succeeds  the  act  of  writing  the  title,  is  the 
beginning  of  the  evolution  of  that  theme,  no  matter 
how  strange  or  alien  the  word  or  phrase  may  seem. 
.  .  .  An  act  of  faith  is  signalized  in  accepting  the 
first  mental  movement,  the  first  word  that  comes 
as  the  response  to  the  mind's  desire  for  the  unfold- 
ment  of  the  subject.  .  .  .  Reason  and  will  are 
not  primary  powers  in  this  process,  but  secondary, 
not  direct,  but  regulative  ;  and  imagination,  instead 
of  conceiving  and  constructing,  only  supplies  words 
and  phrases  piece-meal,  or  however  much  it  receives ; 
it  is  as  a  disc  on  which  the  subject  is  projected,  not 
as  an  active  concipient  organ." 

It  must  be  remembered,  firstly,  that  Wilkinson 
showed  some  power  of  versifying,  when  a  boy  at 
school,  and  that  he  was  then  a  greedy  reader  of 
poetry ;  secondly,  that  Blake  was  the  only  poet 
whom  (so  far  as  we  know)  he  had  studied  systematic- 
aDy  and  exhaustively  since  that  time.  The  only 
other  contribution  towards  judgment  which  shall 
be  added  here  is  that  no  doubt  can  exist  concerning 
Wilkinson's  serious  simplicity  in  his  account  of  the 

6 


98       JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

"  influx  "  to  which  he  considered  himself  subject. 
With  these  helps  the  reader  must  judge  of  the  matter 
for  himself. 

Two  specimens  of  these  "  Improvisations  "  may, 
however,  be  welcome,  since  the  book  which  contains 
them  is  practically  unobtainable. 

Shall  my  Poet  cup 

Now  be  dried  up  ? 

Yes  :  it  shall  dry  up  now,  to  ope  again : 

And  then  it  shall  disclose  a  deeper  vein, 

And  more  abundant  waters,  when  thy  health 

And  Faith  and  Hope  and  Good  are  greater  Wealth 

Of  Poet- Power  within  thee  :  then  thy  heart 

Shall  be  more  full  of  courage,  and  have  part 

In  fountains  not  so  easily  exhaust. 

At  present  thou  art  Vanity's  Holocaust, 

And  greatly  burnt  up  by  her  love  of  Beauty, 

For  sake  of  Beauty's  show — so,  do  thy  Duty  : 

And  song  shall  come  in  bright  Attendances : 

And  specially  when  upon  thy  knees, 

Thou  dost  invite  the  Muse  Celestial  down. 

At  other  times  she  does  but  sit  and  frown, 

While  lower  spirits,  not  songful,  leering  sprites, 

Usurp  her  harp-strings,  and  put  out  her  lights. 

Heaven,  the  Heart's  Heaven,  and  Home,  the  land  of  God, 

Is  the  Parnassus  on  whose  mystic  sod 

The  Muses  build  their  real  mansion.     Life 

Is  the  great  field  whereon  the  heavenly  Strife 

And  heavenly  harmony  of  Song  do  enter, 

And  where  in  unison  of  Love  they  centre. 

Make  thy  Home  Heaven,  then,  and  then  Poesy 

Married  to  Christ,  love  shall  well  visit  thee. 

Farewell  till  then :  for  until  then  we  flee. 

Cowley  and  Herbert's  sphere 

Are  no  longer  here. 


BIOGRAPHY  99 

I  asked,  Can  I  write  Song  this  morning  ? 

Yes,  you  can,  with  power  and  sweetness  too. 
Your  Muse  is  here :  you  nothing  have  to  do, 
But  to  sit  by,  while  she  indites  the  Song : 
Her  brightness  flows  around  you,  and  ere  long, 
You  will  so  recognize  her  friendly  hand, 
That  naught  shall  intervene  to  countermand 
God's  will  with  you,  that  you  be  instrument, 
To  work  out  His  most  holy  high  intent 
Of  pouring  Truth,  apart  from  mortal  pride, 
Upon  all  men  who  willingly  abide, 
In  Truth's  and  Beauty's  way :  so  take  your  pen, 
Be  a  good  boy ;  and  down  to  earth  again 
Shall  step  sweet  Spirit- Melodies,  more  rare 
Than  ever  yet  have  thrilled  thy  native  air. 


The  book  has  always  had  admirers  and  adherents, 
and  Wilkinson  was  frequently  importuned  for  copies. 
Dr  Westland  Marston,  acknowledging  a  presentation 
copy,  says  : — "  I  find  matter  of  deep  psychological 
interest.  I  value  it  for  its  spirit  which  seems  to  me 
an  utterance  of  the  law  or  essence  of  which  objects 
are  exponents ;  although  the  forms  are  occasionally 
perplexed.  There  are  perpetual  glints  of  spiritual 
life  and  revelations  which  could  not  be  got  at  by  any 
process  of  straining,  though  the  two  sets  of  images 
often  run  the  one  into  the  otfcer.  .  .  .  Clearly  the 
book,  proceeding  from  the  initial  force  of  the  mind, 
rather  than  from  the  representative  faculties,  will 
only  be  patent  to  the  initial  mind — to  the  initiated  : 
but  by  such  it  will  be  deeply  valued."  Another 


100      JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

correspondent,  writing  as  late  as  1871,  says  :—  4  You 
have  assuredly  long  ago  heard  from  far  worthier 
lips  the  just  recognition  of  their  value  ;  but  I  cannot 
forbear  expressing  to  you  my  deep  sense  of  the 
mingled  charm  of  strong  simplicity  and  mystic 
splendour  that  characterize  so  many  of  them." 
But  "  the  initiated "  are  few,  and  Mr  Gilchrist's 
dictum,  that  the  book  has  passed  into  the  limbo  of 
the  modern  "  spiritualist "  muse,  must  be  accepted. 
Still,  two  poems,  those  upon  "  Turner  "  and  "  The 
Diamond "  appear  in  the  little  known  authology 
of  verse  which  Mr  Emerson  issued  under  the  title 
"  Parnassus." 

This  year,  1857,  saw  a  very  different  production 
of  Wilkinson's  pen — a  pamphlet  upon  "  The  Use 
of  Glanderine  and  Farcine  in  the  treatment  of 
Pulmonary  and  other  Diseases  "  which  introduced 
two  new  nosodes  to  medical  practice.  Another 
pamphlet,  embracing  the  two  influences  which  were 
then  potent  upon  him,  was  "  The  Homeopathic 
principle  applied  to  Insanity,  a  proposal  to  treat 
Insanity  by  Spiritualism." 

There  follow  several  years  in  which  Wilkinson 
published  little.  In  1858  he  took  his  son  James,  then 
a  boy  of  fourteen,  with  him  for  a  tour  in  Norway  and 
Sweden,  at  that  time  regarded  as  a  piece  of  serious 
travel.  It  is  not  necessary  to  follow  them  through 
the  experiences  of  a  holiday  now  sufficiently  usual ; 
but  one  extract  may  be  quoted  from  his  letters  as 


BIOGRAPHY  101 

evidence  of  his  delight  and  appreciation  of  what  he 


saw.1 

"  I  am  almost  stunned  by  the  magnificence  and 
fearful  beauty  of  Nature  in  these  Norse  wildernesses 
of  mountains.  Lake  upon  lake,,  waterfall  upon 
waterfall,  mountains  barren  as  stones,  mountains 
clad  with  heather,  with  fir  trees,  with  superb  various 
forests,  emerald  pictures  of  farms  hung  up  here  and 
there  in  the  halls  of  the  giants  :  you  have  no  con- 
ception of  it.  Tell  our  friend  Mr  Shrubsole  that  here 
are  Rockeries  by  the  thousand  miles  together.  .  .  . 
The  might  of  water  here,  doubling  and  embracing 
all  the  great  creations,  which  see  themselves  like 
thoughts  within  it,  is  something  unparalleled  to  my 
mind.  Only  just  now  we  have  visited  near  our 
Hotel,  a  foss  or  waterfall,  the  descent  of  a  great 
river  through  deep  stony  gorges  into  the  subjacent 
lake,  which  at  first  took  away  my  powers  of  apprecia- 
tion. It  is  the  realm  of  the  Poetry  of  the  Giants. 
.  .  .  Jamie  drives  himself  like  a  Norwegian." 

During  this  year  Garth  Wilkinson's  eldest  daughter, 
Emma,  was  betrothed  to  Lieut.  Hermann  Pertz, 
son  of  G.  H.  Pertz.2 

The  marriage  was  a  happy  one  to  all  concerned 
and  gave  great  interest  in  all  German  matters  to 
the  family.  The  two  daughters  of  this  union  were, 

1  Letter  to  his  wife,  August  7,  1858. 

2  Editor  of  ' '  Monumenta  Germanise   Historica/'   and   author  of 
"Stem's  Leben." 


102     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

after  the  death  of  their  parents,  to  supply  bright  and 
loving  company  to  Garth  Wilkinson  in  his  old  age. 

Spiritualism  contributed  a  strange  acquaintance 
in  Thomas  Lake  Harris.  Writing  to  a  follower 
of  Harris,1  Wilkinson  says  : — 

"  Mr  and  Mrs  Harris  stayed  with  me  in  this  house 
for  some  weeks  when  they  first  visited  London. 
I  have  many  memories  of  them  both.  Afterwards 
they  lodged  in  Queen's  Terrace,  close  to  this,  during 
the  whole  time  of  his  delivery  of  his  sermons  in 
Wigmore  Street,  in  what  is  now  Steinway  Hall. 
In  that  Hall  I  also  heard  both  Carlyle  and  Emerson 
lecture.  There  is  a  poem  in  Regina — addressed 
to  my  late  daughter,  Emma  Marsh  Pertz. 

"  When  Harris  visited  London  some  years  after, 
he  passed  me  by,  and  was  with  the  Oliphants  and 
others.  It  was  a  proof  of  his  spiritual  judgment, 
for  in  the  meantime  I  had  departed  from  any- 
thing like  pupilage  to  his  genius,  and  gradually  left 
Spiritualism  on  any  other  than  the  lines  of  the 
New  Religion  commissioned  through  Swedenborg.  I 
do  not,  however,  close  myself  against  any  future 
dispensation.  But  I  cannot  see  that  T.  L.  Harris 
has  continued  the  Revelation  of  the  Divine  Sense 
of  the  Word,  though  he  has  broken  ground  in  social 
and  practical  life  :  perhaps  deep  ground." 

Lawrence  Oliphant  was  also  a  friend  of  this  period. 
"  To-day  I  have  a  present  of  West  India  Jams  from 

1  Letter  to  Mr  J.  Thomson,  September  1,  1893. 


BIOGRAPHY  10S 

Mrs  Bennett,  Mr  Oliphant's  friend,"  wrote  Wilkinson 
in  1865.  "  He  wants  to  go  to  Mr  Harris  in  America. 
Their  difficulty  seems  coming"  There  was  perhaps 
more  than  "  spiritual  judgment  "  in  Harris'  avoid- 
ance of  his  former  host ;  for  when  Oliphant  pressed 
Wilkinson  for  an  introduction  to  Harris,  Wilkinson 
declined  it,  with  the  expressed  opinion  that  the 
acquaintance  was  not  for  Oliphant's  good.  It  had 
been  well  for  the  latter  if  he  had  accepted  his  friend's 
opinion.  But  he  went  to  Queen's  Terrace,  walked 
outside  Harris'  lodgings  for  some  time  in  doubt, 
and  finally  introduced  himself  to  "  the  Prophet," 
with  results  which  will  be  remembered  by  all  who 
have  read  his  biography. 

The  last  contemporary  mention  of  Harris,  in  the 
same  year,  reads,  "  Harris  is  starting  a  Bank,  of 
which  he  is  President."  Wilkinson  does  not  appear 
to  have  been  a  depositor. 

In  the  same  letter,  he  mentions,  "  The  day  before 
yesterday  I  had  a  long  talk  with  Mr  and  Mrs  G.  H. 
Lewes.  Romola  was  very  nice,  and  looked  particu- 
larly well." 

Among  the  letters  of  1859  is  one  from  Lola  Montez, 
who  seeks  Garth  Wilkinson's  acquaintance  on  account 
of  his  position  in  the  New  Church,  his  authorship 
of  the  "  Improvisations,"  and  his  connection  with 
T.  L.  Harris. 

These  years  were  full  of  professional  work,  and  that 
is  very  probably  the  reason  why  they  have  left  few 


104     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

traces  of  other  interests.  Charles  Lamb  said  that 
the  true  works  of  Elia  were  to  be  found  in  the  ledgers 
of  India  House.  The  writings  of  Garth  Wilkinson 
between  1857  and  1880  must,  in  general,  be  sought 
in  his  Case  Books.  During  this  time  he  established 
a  consulting  room  at  76  Wimpole  Street  and  moved 
house  to  4  Finchley  Road.  In  1865  he  delivered 
a  discourse  upon  "  Our  Social  Health "  before 
The  Ladies'  Sanitary  Association,  which  was  after- 
wards published,  and  ran  through  two  editions: 
it  set  forth  righteousness,  both  public  and  private, 
as  an  essential  to  social  well-being.  His  holidays 
bulk  largely  in  his  correspondence,  perhaps  because 
he  found  more  time  for  writing  then  than  during 
the  working  months.  These  holidays  were  varied 
and  extensive. 

In  1859,  starting  late  in  consequence  of  his 
daughter's  wedding,  Wilkinson  went  South,  to  Algiers, 
md  Marseilles,  then  home  by  Aries,  Nismes  and  Lyons. 
He  wrote,  among  others,  a  lively  letter  to  his  son. 

"  I  arrived  just  before  the  Annual  Arab  Races, 
which  the  French  Government  has  instituted,  by 
premiums,  to  improve  the  breed  of  Arab  Horses. 
The  town  was  full  of  Arab  cavaliers,  from  all  parts, 
even  to  the  great  desert :  all  Tribes,  such  figures 
as  you  have  seen  in  books,  at  full  gallop,  with  lance 
and  matchlock.  From  5  to  6  thousand  men  were 
encamped  on  Mustapha  Superieure,  a  place  above 
the  town,  where  also  we  saw  troops  of  camels. 


BIOGRAPHY  105 

In  the  race,  7  Arabs  started  every  5  minutes,  for 
four  hours,  and  the  victor,  the  moment  his  steed 
came  in,  leapt  down,  and  was  paid  his  premium. 
It  was  a  strange  sight,  to  see  these  wild  people,  with 
their  rude  turbans  and  long  garments  of  flannel, 
with  naked  legs,  flying  past  in  fierce  competition 
on  their  Arab  horses.  Then  the  sides  of  the  course 
were  occupied  also  by  the  picturesque  chivalry 
of  the  Atlas.  Besides  these,  there  were  the  dapper 
French  Officers  and  multitudes  of  Moors,  Jews, 
Negros  ;  a  mixture  of  many  nations.  One  or  two 
Arabs  were  killed  in  the  rush ;  one  very  near  me. 
The  French  have  an  ambulance  bed  on  the  course 
ready  to  receive  them ;  and,  one  moment  in  all  the 
fire  of  rivalry,  the  next  they  are  being  walked  off 
in  their  coffins.  Their  Arab  freres  take  no  notice 
and  a  few  deaths  are  considered  a  matter  of  course." 

The  sunshine,  the  mixture  of  races,  and  the  fruit, 
of  which  he  gives  a  picturesque  catalogue,  appear 
to  have  most  impressed  him. 

In  1860,  there  was  another  wedding  in  the  family, 
his  second  daughter  marrying  Mr  B.  St  John  Matthews 
(afterwards  Attwood-Matthews)  of  Pontrilas  Court, 
Herefordshire.  The  holiday  of  this  year  took  him 
to  Paris,  Brussels  and  Malines.  Paris,  not  being 
in  revolution,  did  not  please  him  so  much  as  it  had 
done  in  1848. 

In  1861  he  took  an  autumn  trip  to  Spain  with 
his  friend  Mr  Decimus  Hand,  meeting  on  board 


106     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

ship  with  General  Outram,  "  who  in  these  his  last 
days  is  quite  a  picture  and  a  study  to  me.  He 
talks  very  unreservedly  of  his  past  life."  The  route 
was  by  Gibraltar,  Cadiz,  Xeres  (where  he  "  tasted 
sherry  at  the  fountain  head "),  Seville,  Cordova 
and  Granada  with  the  Alhambra.  The  Cathedral 
of  Seville  greatly  impressed  him.  "  At  9  this  morn- 
ing we  went  into  the  Cathedral,  which  made  me 
literally  heave  with  emotion.  Hands  said,  "  I  say, 
Wilkinson,  doesn't  this  knock  one  to  pieces  ? " 
To  say  that  it  beggars  and  eclipses  all  the  ecclesi- 
astical edifices  I  have  seen  conveys  no  idea  of  what 
I  felt.  Art  in  the  grandest  shape  yet  realized, 
one  feels  that  it  is  also  Nature,  and  that  rock  and 
mountain  would  own  it  as  a  sister.  It  is  so  stupend- 
ous in  size  and  weight,  that  Antwerp  or  Notre  Dame 
dwindles  before  its  columns.  And  the  lights  that 
play  within  it,  by  their  intensity  of  colour,  give 
a  kind  of  awful  finish,  though  ever  shifting,  to  the 
interior.  We  also  ascended  the  Moorish  Tower, 
340  feet,  the  easiest  ascent  I  ever  made,  and  saw 
the  view  of  Seville,  of  a  village  on  the  hill  where 
Cortez  lived,  the  Bull  Ring,  the  Guadalquiver,  etc. 
But  coming  back  to  the  Cathedral,  the  view  looked 
small,  to  the  surprizing  inside." 

Characteristic  of  the  man  was  his  intense  love 
of  light  and  of  trees.  He  seldom  visited  a  place 
without  recording  some  enjoyment  gained  from  one 
or  both  of  them.  It  will  be  remembered  that  in  his 


BIOGRAPHY  107 

autobiographical  fragment  he  mentions  the  joy 
which  he  felt  as  a  boy  on  a  certain  "  picnic  of 
picnics "  on  meeting  with  "  jumpers  and  other 
plants  of  such  regions,  which  were  as  parts  of  a  new 
world  to  him."  Writing  to  his  youngest  daughter, 
on  this  Spanish  journey,  he  heads  his  letter  : 

"  ALHAMBRA  ! !      September  25,  1861  :- 

"  The  above  will  speak  volumes.  I  am  not 
writing  within  the  precincts  of  the  Alhambra !  I 
shall  not  waste  words  with  descriptions  :  but  only 
say  that  all  words  fail  to  convey  an  idea  of  this 
ruin  with  its  surroundings.  It  and  Granada  are 
the  Arabian  Nights  made  into  a  palace  and 
city.  You  cannot  see  the  El  Hamar  (Alhambra) 
without  the  sun-green  gardens,  of  Orange,  Pome- 
granate, Vine,  Fig,  and  all  other  most  blooming 
and  aromatic  creatures  :  nor  it,  or  these,  without 
the  sun-blue  sky,  paved  as  it  is  here  with  its  own 
light,  reflected  up  in  one  great  column  from  mountain 
and  plain,  as  far  as  the  eye  can  reach.  In  all  the 
sight  there  is  a  glow,  as  though  we  were  feeling  in 
the  day  the  immediate  pulsation  of  the  sun.  And 
the  men  and  women  one  sees,  as  well  as  the  piled 
fruits,  seem  as  if  they  were  the  result  and  natural 
jewel  of  all  these  influences. 

"  I  speak  only  on  the  picturesque  side,  and  attempt 
to  throw  you  a  copper,  representing  the  Imperial 
Coinage  of  the  beauty  of  this  old  Moorish  place, 


108     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

as  it  is  embalmed  in  the  true  beauty  of  God's  great 
Nature." 

The  possessor,  or  possessed,  of  such  enthusiasm 
did  well  to  travel ;  but  he  had  an  eye  quick  to  see 
the  humbler  beauties  of  the  garden.  Writing  to 
the  same  daughter  (Mrs  Claughton  Mathews)  in 
1898,  he  says  : — 

"  It  seems  absurd  to  talk  to  you,  any  of  you, 
about  greenwoods ;  either  in  Brockenhurst  or 
Sevenoaks.  But  the  happiness  of  a  patch  of  blue 
precocious  squills,  and  of  daffodils  and  primroses 
and  oxlips  fills  the  conceit  until  I  think  of  my 
little  flower-beds  as  country  scenery,  embosomed 
now  also  in  horse-chestnut  trees  great  and  small, 
revelling  in  live  bold  buds,  the  promise  of  Spring." 

The  last  time  I  saw  him,  only  a  few  weeks  before 
his  death,  when  his  walks  were  confined  to  the  little 
London  garden  behind  his  home,  Garth  Wilkinson 
showed  me,  with  affectionate  satisfaction,  some  of 
his  garden  treasures,  reminiscent  of  sunny  days  of 
travel ;  a  chestnut  grown  from  a  nut  which  he  had 
picked  up  at  Cordova,  Hydrastis  C anode,  sis  brought 
from  the  States,  Phytolacca  sent  to  him  ^  v  a  friend 
in  New  Zealand.  His  mind's  eye  could  still  Decon- 
struct the  scenes  where  these  things  had  flourished 
at  their  best,  and  he  was  warmed  and  lighted  up 
by  memory. 

In  1863  his  holiday  took  him  no  farther  than 
Scotland  and  the  English  Lakes ;  and  in  1864  he 


BIOGRAPHY  109 

paid  a  delightful  visit  to  his  daughter,  Mrs  Pertz, 
and  his  infant  grandchildren,  at  Salzburg ;  seeing 
Nuremburg,  Innsbruck  and  Vienna,  in  company  with 
Captain  Pertz. 

1866  took  him  to  Iceland,  which  appealed  to  him 
so  keenly  that  he  repeated  the  journey  in  1868. 
Journals  of  both  visits  are  full  of  keen  observation 
and  great  enjoyment.  Icelandic  travel  in  those 
days  was  regarded  as  distinctly  adventurous,  and 
there  was  a  good  deal  of  roughness  and  discomfort 
in  the  experience  :  but  it  was  salutary.  "  All  our 
party,"  he  wrote,  "  seems  better  than  usual ;  and 
for  my  part  I  cannot  doubt  that  it  is  more  feasible 
for  me  to  be  here  on  this  rough  platform  of  experience, 
than  to  be  enjoying  the  luxuries  of  good  hotels  in 
pleasant  places  on  the  Continent.  I  feel  strengthen- 
ing for  my  dear  work  at  home."  The  greatest  danger 
that  he  escaped  was  from  an  unexpected  eruption 
of  the  Great  Geyser  while  he  was  bathing  in  a  warm 
pool.  Tons  of  boiling  water  fell  on  the  place  he  had 
occupied  but  a  moment  before. 

Here,  as  elsewhere,  he  made  friends.  Mr  Ion 
a  Hyaltalin  helped  him  much,  as  we  have  seen, 
in  his  study  of  the  language.  He  came  to  England 
later,  became  Librarian  of  the  Advocates'  Library 
in  Edinburgh,  returned  home,  and  is  now  head  of 
a  College  in  Modruvellir.  The  friendship  was  close 
and  life-long. 

The  holiday  of  1869  realized  the  hopes  of  many 


110      JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

years.  It  took  the  form  of  a  rush  through  part 
of  the  United  States.  He  was  away  from  home 
only  five  weeks.  The  poet,  Longfellow,  and  his 
family,  were  on  board  the  steamer  on  the  outward 
journey,  and  with  them  Wilkinson  foregathered. 
He  saw  New  York,  Albany,  Niagara,  Montreal, 
Quebec,  Lake  Champlain,  Lake  George,  Boston  and 
Cambridge.  Here  he  was  fraternally  received  by 
Mr  James,  and  renewed  the  unbroken  friendship 
of  old  times.  Wilkinson  found  his  god-son  an 
ex-captain  and  farmer  on  a  large  scale,  who,  having 
fought  and  bled  in  command  of  a  negro  Regiment, 
can  hope  no  better  for  the  coloured  brother  than  that 
he  may  die  out.  From  Mr  James'  house  Wilkinson 
visited  Longfellow,  with  whom  he  found  Charles 
Sumner,  Chairman  of  the  Committee  for  Foreign 
Affairs  in  the  Senate,  and  notorious  at  this  time 
for  his  fierceness  over  the  Alabama  Claims.  Though 
he  was  conciliatory  and  "  claimed  "  to  be  a  reader 
of  Wilkinson's  works,  on  the  recommendation  of 
Emerson,  the  conversation  ended  in  an  outspoken 
argument.  Old  patients,  old  literary  colleagues,  new 
friends  who  were  old  readers,  fell  in  Wilkinson's  way 
at  every  turn :  he  found  himself  famous  in  the  States, 
his  name  a  pass-word.  It  is  not  to  be  wondered  at 
that  he  enjoyed  his  hurried  holiday. 

On  his  return  home,  he  wrote  in  his  travelling 
journal  a  reply  to  the  constant  question  which  had 
greeted  him.  "  What  do  you  think  of  our  country  ?  " 


BIOGRAPHY  111 

"  Sitting  at  home  here,  Jonathan,  Brother  and  dear 
Boy,  I  like  what  I  have  seen  of  it  very  extremely ; 
and  even  feel  that  I  fantastically  regret  having  spent 
holidays  in  France,  Germany,  Switzerland  and  other 
old  and  irrelevant  places,  when  I  might  earlier  have 
grasped  your  singular  and  ever-grasping  fingers. 

"  I  was  fourteen  days  and  some  hours  there,  and 
felt  the  touch  of  a  new  life,  a  new  vitality,  a  new 
velocity  in  everybody.  I  was  impressed  spiritually 
with  the  fact  of  a  new  Mission  in  Humanity,  which 
America  is  carrying  out :  a  mission  the  basis  and 
nutriment  of  which  is  Making  Money  and  Getting 
on ;  not  the  All-mighty  Dollar,  but  the  indefinitely 
plentiful  Dollar  as  a  Divine  Need  for  men  to  execute 
their  Mission.  I  was  impressed  with  the  Divine 
Value  of  Money  as  distinctively  opposed  to  the 
Aristocratic  and  Avaricious  value  of  it,  with  the 
fact  that  every  man  is  determined  to  make  it  by 
some  services,  to  have  it  and  to  spend  it.  A  new 
consciousness  of  the  worth  of  Life  in  Cash ;  a  con- 
sciousness for  want  of  which  the  operatives  of  Europe, 
save  in  the  Trades  Unions,  are  rotting. 

"  2.  I  was  impressed  with  the  fact  that  the  American 
People  is  Providentially  hurled  over  the  steeps  and 
difficulties  of  their  Continent,  fearless  and  therefore 
free,  to  lay  hold  of  it  hour  by  hour,  and  cover  it 
with  roads  and  cities ;  and  to  show  how  rapid  an 
Architect  Freedom  is,  in  a  new  world  all  his  own. 
And  that  this  period  of  New  Building  of  all  kinds 


112     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

is  not  the  making  of  a  new  Country,  but  of  a 
Cosmopolitan  Place,  veritably  a  New  World  ;  which 
will  destroy  Countries  and  institute  the  World. 
That  all  lands  will  open  into  it,  by  henceforth  vast 
migrations ;  and  that  by  example,  influence  and 
polity  it  will  educate,  flow  into  and  impress  all 
countries,  and  be  the  crowning  piece  in  the  material 
life  of  the  Nations,  and  that  God  is  palpably  with 
America  all  the  time,  and  that  it  is  Newly  His,  and 
will  kneel  more  reverently  to  Him  than  any  other 
World  of  Peoples. 

And  that  the  Vices  and  Corruptions  of  America 
are  of  the  greatest,  but  do  not  hinder  her  first 
mighty  Work ;  but  will  be  burnt  up  as  dried  tares 
when  the  day  of  her  purgation  comes.  And  that 
now  they  are  spiritually  less  deadly,  though  more 
odorously  offensive,  than  the  perfumed  and  fine- 
skinned  Vices  of  European  States." 

Wilkinson,  on  his  return,  was  strongly  impressed 
with  the  necessity  for  the  repeal  of  the  Contagious 
Diseases  (Women)  Act.  Mrs  Josephine  Butler  and 
Mr  F.  W.  Newman,  the  Cardinal's  brother,  were 
his  friends,  and  it  was  not  long  before  he  took  his 
place  by  their  side.  The  periodical  inspection 
of  prostitutes  in  naval  and  military  towns  was  a 
matter  which  made  him  white  with  anger  and 
indignation.  He  wrote  an  open  letter  of  sixteen 
pages  to  the  Home  Secretary,  Mr  Bruce,  in  which 
he  stated  his  views  with  every  plain  statement 


BIOGRAPHY  113 

of  medical  circumstance  which  could  make  the 
administration  of  the  Act  horrible  and  loathsome 
in  the  minds  of  his  readers.  Hating  the  subject, 
hating  to  write  of  it,  he  did  so,  once  and  for  all, 
that  others  might  hate  it  as  he  did.  "  The  Forcible 
Introspection  of  Women  for  the  Army  and  Navy 
by  the  Oligarchy  considered  physically  "  is  painful 
reading.  Whatever  views  may  be  held  upon  the 
subject,  it  is  now  unnecessary  that  this  little 
pamphlet  should  be  read.  In  a  tract  entitled  "  A 
Free  State  and  Free  Medicine,"  further  advocating 
the  dischartering  of  his  profession,  Wilkinson  dealt 
also  with  this  subject.  At  the  same  time  we  find  him 
strongly  supporting  the  Married  Woman's  Property 
Bill,  in  a  letter  to  Mrs  Jacob  Bright. 

Those  of  us  who  are  old  enough  remember  the 
intense  excitement  in  England  concerning  the 
Franco-Prussian  War,  how  general  sympathy  was 
first  opposed  to  France  and  came  round  to  her 
in  her  debacle.  It  was  sure  to  be  otherwise  in 
Wilkinson's  household,  who  had  a  son-in-law  fighting 
in  the  Prussian  Engineers.  As  usual,  Wilkinson 
"  did  not  mince  matters."  On  August  12,  1870 
he  wrote  to  his  wife.  "  The  evil  of  the  day  is  that 
they  (the  Prussians)  have  been  wantonly  assaulted 
and  invaded  by  '  Diaboleon,'  and  that  they  are 
obliged  to  resist  to  the  death,  and  to  put  an  end  to 
the  state  of  things  which  '  Diaboleon '  represents. 
And  they  are  doing  it  with  a  speed  and  certainty 


114     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

which  seems  favoured  of  Heaven.  Never  before 
has  there  been  a  more  sublime  spectacle  of  a  great 
Nation  moving  without  a  break  from  home  into 
battle,  against  a  mere  standing  army  of  bandits 
and  cut-throats  led  by  a  murderous  Devil.  The 
result  will  show  that  a  standing  Army  has  no  chance 
against  an  embattled  people.  .  .  .  '  Diaboleon ' 
said  well  that  '  he  went  to  increase  Liberty  and 
Civilization.'  He  did.  A  deeper  Diaboleon,  whose 
fool  he  is,  sent  him  forth,  and  in  the  destruction 
of  Self  and  Host,  Liberty  and  Civilization  will  breathe 
afresh,  even  for  poor,  but  soon  emancipated,  France." 

Many  prayers  were  sent  up  for  the  safety  of 
Hermann  Pertz  who  saw  much  service,  was  the 
first  Officer  to  enter  Metz,  received  the  Iron  Cross 
at  Versailles  and  returned  safely  to  his  family,  amidst 
a  chorus  of  thanksgiving. 

Wilkinson  had  long  foreseen  German  Unity. 
Writing  to  his  daughter  Mrs  Pertz  in  1866  during 
"  The  Seven  Weeks'  War,"  he  said  :— "  I  am  deeply 
interested  in  all  you  tell  me  of  dear  Hermann,  for 
whose  preservation  I  am  thankful  to  God  ;  and  also 
in  the  European  conflict.  If  Prussia  were  a  liberal 
power,  she  might  unite  Germany  into  one  nationality. 
...  At  present,  all  she  can  do  is  to  overrun  alien 
Germany ;  but  she  will  be  unable  to  hold  whatever 
she  cannot  Prussianize  ;  for  Prussianization  appears 
to  be  the  height  and  depth  and  breadth  of  her  aim, 
and  a  very  poor  aim  it  is  to  justify  the  loss  of  so 


BIOGRAPHY  115 

many  lives.  But  God  may  engraft  His  own  ends 
upon  the  small  aims  of  Kings  and  Ministers,  and 
force  the  little  fellows  to  carry  them  out ;  as  he 
engrafted  Total  Emancipation  upon  the  pettifogging 
Aims  of  the  United  States,  and  they  had  to  fight 
till  it  was  gained." 

In  October  1870,  Wilkinson  joined  Mrs  Pertz 
in  Berlin.  Writing  to  his  wife  the  day  after  his 
arrival,  he  says.  "  Thank  God,  I  am  safe  and  well 
in  this  comfortable  Hotel,  and  have  just  break- 
fasted in  my  bedroom,  with  our  own  Emma,  and 
the  boys  beside  me.  They  were  here  by  9  in 
the  morning  to  see  Grossvater  in  bed,  in  which 
they  succeeded.  .  .  .  There  are  no  regiments 
visible  on  the  road,  and  almost  no  young  men ; 
this  nation  is  evidently  in  a  great  crisis.  Every- 
one seems  quiet  and  composed  ;  no  boasting.  The 
wounded  in  every  train  ;  we  had  three  in  my  carriage. 
.  .  .  France  has  no  great  cause  to  band  her  against 
the  great  cause  that  they  (the  Germans)  have,  the 
Unity  of  a  Great  German  Fatherland.  .  .  .  She  has 
caught  her  Conqueror.  His  doom  is  to  conquer 
and  to  chain  her  for  a  time.  No  light  doom  either." 
On  October  22,  he  writes,  "  At  10  to-day  we  went 
to  the  Wounded,  with  144  jackets,  socks  and 
comforters,  besides  cigars.  We  were  through  at 
1.  Mrs  Pertz1  (senior)  went  with  us,  and 
we  met  at  the  hospital  barracks  the  Countess 

1  Nee  Homer,  wife  of  G.  H.  Pertz. 


116     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

Stein,  who  accompanied  us,  also  with  stores. 
She  spoke  in  such  splendid  terms  of  Emma  and 
all  she  did  at  Strassburg ;  of  her  courage  and 
rapidity.  You  should  see  Emma  among  the  flocks 
of  soldiers  ;  she  quite  towers,  and  addresses  them 
in  the  easiest  way ;  and  evidently  loves  service 
among  them,  touched,  no  doubt,  continually  by  her 
absent  Hermann.  I  am  astonished  at  her,  for  she 
so  thoroughly  heads  and  leads  the  relieving  party. 
We  gave  to  Germans  and  French  ;  and  I  had  pleasant 
chats  with  the  latter.  You  have  only  to  see  the  whole 
stalwart  faces  of  the  Germans,  their  build,  and 
contrast  with  the  French,  to  know  that  that  set 
of  Germans  once  awakened  and  once  victorious, 
the  French  would  have  no  chance  in  the  greater  game 
of  War." 

This  year  saw  the  beginning  of  Wilkinson's  crusade 
against  compulsory  vaccination.  His  labours  in 
this  regard  occupied  his  pen  and  his  leisure  ex- 
tensively for  some  eight  or  nine  years.  It  is  a 
matter  which  will  be  best  considered  in  a  separate 
chapter. 

In  1871,  Mary  James,  Wilkinson's  youngest 
daughter,  was  married  to  Mr  Francis  Claughton 
Mathews.  It  was  a  union  which  began  a  close  and 
affectionate  friendship,  lasting  through  the  remainder 
of  Wilkinson's  life.  The  marriage  of  his  children 
gave  Wilkinson  ties  near  home  and  contributed 
with  his  age  (for  he  was  now  nearing  his  sixtieth 


BIOGRAPHY  117 

birthday),  to  diminish  his  zest  for  distant  and  rapid 
holiday  excursions.  Indeed  we  may  regard  his 
holidays  of  this  and  the  next  year  as  marking  the 
end  of  such  travel,  in  an  orgy  of  two  consecutive 
trips  to  Norway.  His  journal  of  the  first  of  these 
journeys  abounds  in  descriptions  of  scenery  by  land 
and  sea  and  pleasantly  reflects  the  sunshine  flecked 
with  sea-birds.  "  I  have  a  most  delightful  Captain," 
he  writes  to  his  wife,  "  who  quite  pets  me ;  the 
constant  change  of  people  at  the  Stationer ;  the 
putting  off  of  the  boats ;  and  the  men  and  women 
who  come  on  board,  is  a  pleasant  study  for  a  holiday 
time.  And  then,  sea,  sky,  mountains,  all  clear  and 
sweet,  for  hundreds  and  thousands  of  miles.  ...  I 
am  on  deck  nearly  all  day ;  enjoying  the  warm 
fresh  air,  and  conversing  about  with  the  passengers." 
His  son  was  contemplating  the  construction  of  a 
railway  line  from  Sundsvall  to  Trondhjem,  and  he 
was  busy  in  collecting  information :  the  Swedes 
were  opposed  to  it,  as  likely  to  exhalt  Trondhjem 
at  the  expense  of  Stockholm.  "  They  say  the 
Swedish  Government  hinders  it.  Probably  this  is 
a  Norwegian  mistake.  But,  from  what  I  hear, 
I  cannot  but  think  that  the  Railway  will  be  made." 
James  Wilkinson  also  engineered  the  Lulea  line, 
the  first  and  only  railway  which  crosses  the  Arctic 
circle. 

Wilkinson's    speculative    imagination    was     still 
active,  "  Loud  carousing  in  the  Cabin,"  he  reported 


118     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

on  one  of  the  outward  journeys,  "  Constant  Toasts  " 
-"  Skal  "—for  "  lyckHga  neise."  "  What  can  toasts 
mean  ?  They  seem  generally  to  be  convivial  prayers, 
with  the  Principal  Character  left  out.  ...  As  I 
noticed  of  the  clouds  in  going  to  Iceland,  so  here,  not 
only  of  the  clouds,  but  of  the  rocks  and  mountains, 
I  see  that  animal  and  human  forms  are  constantly 
suggested.  Men's  faces  on  the  fell-tops,  tortoises, 
elephants,  all  huge  mammals,  seem  impacted,  and 
struggling  in  bonds  of  stone  here.  All  folks  notice 
it.  Is  there  not  a  nisus  animalis  and  nisus  humanus 
really  signified,  a  spiritual  moulding  inevitable, 
in  these  things  called  freaks  of  Nature,  and  creatures 
of  the  imagination  ?  I  believe  it,  and  that  no  Alp 
can  be  upheaved,  and  no  rock  settle,  without  feeling 
that  inner  force  of  God  by  which  all  nature  tends  to 
higher  forms  and  to  man.  The  more  plastic  the 
sphere,  the  more  representative ;  so  that  cloudland 
shows  it  most  dramatically.  But  granite  obeys 
also,  and  is  from  within,  as  well  as  from  without, 
a  creature  of  the  Divine  and  Human  Imagination." 

In  a  long-delayed  letter  to  Mrs  Pertz,  at  about 
this  time,  Wilkinson  bewails  his  inability  to  do  more 
than  meet  the  absolute  daily  necessities  of  corre- 
spondence. His  practice  now  was  very  large  and  he 
had  frequently  to  visit  patients  at  considerable 
distances  —  such  as  Eastbourne,  Oswestry  and 
Leamington.  He  found  his  relaxation  chiefly  in 
reading ;  the  Norse  studies  were  pursued,  and  he 


BIOGRAPHY  119 

began  a  course  of  the  Latin  Classics  which  he  followed 
with  occasional  interruptions  to  the  end  of  his  life. 
Virgil,  especially  the  sixth  JSneid,  was  a  favourite 
of  his ;  and  he  was  pleased  to  meet  anyone  who 
would  discuss  Lucretius  with  him.  Plautus  and 
Terence  amused  him  greatly.  He  was  less  addicted 
to  Greek.  His  holidays  were  now  spent  chiefly  in 
visiting  his  married  daughters  in  Herefordshire  and 
in  Kent.  In  1875,  however,  he  spent  a  few  weeks 
in  Guernsey  and  enjoyed  it ;  but  he  found  an  air 
of  retired  gentility  about  the  island  which  would 
not  long  have  contented  him.  In  1879,  he  paid 
his  last  visit  to  Major  and  Mrs  Pertz,  at  the  Althof 
Loetzen  in  East  Prussia,  where  the  Major  was  Com- 
mandant of  a  small  fortress.  This  Wilkinson  duly 
inspected,  but  it  is  characteristic  of  him  that  after 
noting  that  "it  is  a  great  order  "  he  proceeds  to 
mention  the  presence  of  wildflowers  and  the  dis- 
turbance of  a  hare  from  her  form  on  one  of  the 
slopes.  The  Major's  overgrown  garden  and  its  cure 
by  clearances  and  pruning  gave  him  great  joy. 
Major  Pertz  retired  soon  after  this  visit  and  found 
occupation  on  the  newly  constructed  Lynn  and 
Fakenham  Railway,  the  work  of  James  Wilkinson 
junior.  But  he  did  not  long  survive  his  retirement 
and  died  at  Holt  in  Norfolk.  It  was  the  first  entry 
of  death  into  Wilkinson's  immediate  family  circle, 
and  he  was  deeply  touched.  Hermann  Pertz 
was  a  dear  friend  as  well  as  the  husband  of  a 


120     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

loved  and  loving  daughter  for  more  than  twenty 
years. 

In  1882  Wilkinson  translated  from  the  Swedish 
a  tract  by  his  friend  Rektor  Siljestrom  upon  the 
Vaccination  question,  entitled  "  A  momentous 
Education  question  for  the  consideration  of  Parents 
and  others  who  desire  the  well-being  of  the  Rising 
Generation."  A  second  edition  was  called  for  in 
the  following  year.  He  also  wrote  a  little  account 
of  "  Swedenborg's  Doctrines  and  the  Translation 
of  his  Works,"  a  contribution  to  a  series  of  New 
Church  Tracts.  It  was  a  subject  upon  which  no 
living  man  could  speak  with  greater  authority. 
"  As  one  who  has  had  some  experience  in  translating 
Swedenborg,"  he  says,  "  I  can  aver  that  at  first 
for  a  length  of  time  I  had  the  feeling  that  it  would 
be  easy  and  right  to  popularize  him  somewhat,  and 
to  melt  down  his  Proprium  and  his  Scientifics,  his 
Goods,  Truths  and  Uses  and  many  other  of  his 
terms.  I  tried  my  hand  and  failed.  I  found  that 
none  but  Ulysses  can  bend  the  bow  of  Ulysses  : 
that  Swedenborg  in  Latin  must  be  Swedenborg 
in  English  ;  and  so  at  last  I  came  close  to  his  terms, 
and,  as  far  as  I  could  get,  got  into  their  marrow ; 
and  then  I  did  not  want  to  melt  them  down,  but  felt 
sure  then,  as  I  feel  now,  that  they  are  a  genuine 
coinage  which  the  reader  when  he  learns  it,  will 
never  wish  to  see  defaced  in  any  least  lineament,  lest 
a  value  which  is  priceless  be  lost  or  altered  thereby. 


BIOGRAPHY  121 

I  learned,  in  short,  that  the  terms  are  from  the 
rational  mint  of  the  New  Dispensation,  and  that 
it  is  not  lawful  to  break  or  vary  the  coins  of  that 
Kingdom  into  other  forms." 

If  the  reader  will  be  at  the  pains  to  compare  a 
passage  of  the  original  Swedenborgian  Latin  with 
Wilkinson's  translation  he  will  see  how  modest  is  the 
claim  which  the  translator  sets  forward  for  his 
work.  He  will  be  inclined  to  claim  more  for  him ; 
and  to  say  that  Wilkinson  mastered  the  use  of 
Elizabethan  prose  for  this  purpose.  The  English  of 
the  translations  is  the  English  of  the  Authorized 
Version  of  the  Scriptures,  the  comprehensive  and 
comprehensible  English  of  Cranmer's  Collects  in  the 
Book  of  Common  Prayer. 

In  1883,  Wilkinson  edited  for  his  friend  the 
Reverend  J.  le  G.  Brereton,  a  paper  entitled  One 
Teacher :  one  Law  which  demonstrated  "  the 
essential  oneness  of  the  Old  and  the  New  Testaments." 
In  the  same  year  he  brought  out,  on  his  own  account, 
a  brochure  on  "  Pasteur  and  Jenner  "  in  which  he 
bound  Vivisection  and  Vaccination  together  for 
the  purpose  of  gibbeting  them  the  more  effectually. 
He  also  write  a  tractate  on  "  The  Treatment  of  Small- 
pox by  Hydrastis  Canadenses  and  Veratrun  vivide  " 
and  followed  it  in  1884  by  another  one,  "  Vaccination 
as  a  source  of  Small-pox." 

1885  was  a  productive  year  in  literary  output ; 
nor  did  the  quality  of  the  work  show  any  degeneration. 


122     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

A  translation  of  Swedenborg's  "  Sapientia  Angelica 
de  Divino  Amore  "  appeared.  It  consists  of  fifteen 
pages  of  introduction  and  344  pages  of  text.  The 
last  of  Wilkinson's  translations  from  his  master's 
works,  it  shows  his  matured  skill  as  well  as  his  vigour 
and  perseverance.  "  The  Greater  Origins  and  Issues 
of  Life  and  Death"  followed.  "This,"  as  the 
preface  explains,  "  was  commenced  in  order  to  furnish 
to  the  public  mind  the  Author's  testimony  and 
convictions  concerning  what  is  called  Vivisection. 
.  .  .  The  determination  of  his  heart  and  intellect 
against  it  has  grown  with  his  growth,  strengthened 
with  his  strength.  He  has  written  upon  it  from 
time  to  time.  And  now,  when  a  great  public  opinion 
is  rising  by  his  side,  he  had  been  compelled  to  put 
forth  all  his  strength  as  one  combatant  in  the  cause 
of  common  humanity  and  common  science." 

"  Medical  Specialism "  was  originally  an  article 
contributed  to  the  Homoeopathic  World,  which  was 
reprinted.  It  deals  with  a  favourite  subject  of 
its  author's — the  specializing  of  and  in  the  Practice 
of  Medicine. 

In  a  letter  to  his  daughter  Mrs  Frank  Mathews, 
he  gives  the  following  account  of  his  feelings  and 
doings  at  this  time  : — 

"  As  I  get  older,  care  settles  down  more  heavily ; 
but  I  have  not  yet  discovered  whether  it  is  that  there 
is  more  real  care,  or  that  I  make  the  matter  more 
onerous.  Probably  the  latter.  However,  I  am  truly 


BIOGRAPHY 

glad  that  this  year  I  have  been  allowed  to  complete 
two  Books,  and  to  have  them  in  my  past.  My 
translation  of  Swedenborg's  '  Divine  Love  and 
Wisdom '  is  the  most  important  literary  work 
of  my  life  ;  I  have  been  through  it  in  various  editions 
some  six  times,  and  have  now  done  my  best  with 
it.  You  will  be  glad  to  hear  that  my  labours  are 
hailed  and  appreciated  warmly  both  in  this  country 
and  in  America ;  and  that  my  own  Book  is  selling 
as  well  as  I  can  expect  on  both  sides  of  the  Atlantic. 
There  is  a  good  demand  for  it  in  Canada.  If  bodily 
health  continues,  there  are  still  other  subjects  on 
which  I  should  wish  to  speak  ;  especially  theological- 
political,  on  the  rule  of  a  true  Church  in  and  over 
Democracy.  .  .  .  But  whether  I  am  strong  enough 
to  enter  this  field,  time  and  health  will  show.  I 
like  to  tell  you  these  things  ;  for  they  are  the  only 
intimate  part  of  me,  and  I  wish  you  to  participate 
in  them. 

"  Dear  Mamma  and  I  are  very  happy  together, 
especially  in  being  at  one  in  all  our  best  hopes  and 
beliefs ;  and  in  waiting  with  a  patience  which  is 
a  new  and  good  fruit  of  years.  In  the  midst  of  all 
our  many  anxieties  for  all  our  dear  families,  she  is 
always  buoyant  at  the  end,  and  submissive  to 
the  Will,  which  is  above  our  dictation.  She  is 
reconcilable  to  events  by  a  Power  above  herself." 

The  "  waiting  with  patience "  for  one  of  the 
partners  was  not  to  be  long,  for  in  March  1886, 


124     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

came  the  great  sorrow  of  Wilkinson's  life,  the  sorrow 
which  one  of  every  pair  of  lovers  must  expect.  The 
loving  and  comprehending  companion  of  forty -six 
years  of  happy  wedded  life  had  latterly  been  failing 
in  health,  and  was  taken  from  him.  Neither  religion 
nor  philosophy  can  obviate  the  impact  of  such  a 
blow  at  first ;  while  self  is  self,  the  removal  of  so 
much  must  shock  what  of  us  is  not  stunned.  In 
this  way  Garth  Wilkinson  suffered  ;  but  he  knew  well 
how  near  is  the  spirit  world,  how  continuous  with 
that  which  is  ours  ;  and  he  emerged,  dismayed  but 
not  perplexed,  from  the  first  inevitable  selfishness 
of  grief.  It  was  from  the  depth  of  experience  and 
conviction  that  he  wrote  to  the  widow  of  a  dear  and 
recently  lost  friend.  '  You  have  both  of  you 
changed  worlds  ;  he  is  in  sight  of  his  Home,  perhaps 
in  it :  you  are  in  the  Faith  and  Good  of  it,  as  you  were 
not  when  he  was  here.  It  is  sure  that  where  conjugal 
love  exists,  the  death  of  either  mate  increases  and 
elevates  the  union  as  no  other  happening  can." 

Wilkinson  was  now  seventy- three ;  he  had  not 
lost  heart,  but  he  was  weary  and  had  lost  his  chief 
earthly  support.  He  had  already  given  up  his 
consulting  room  in  Wimpole  Street,  and  henceforth 
he  retired,  so  far  as  he  was  allowed  to  do  so,  from 
the  practice  of  his  profession.  There  were  old  and 
loved  patients  whom  he  could  not  abandon ;  these 
he  still  received  at  his  house  and  visited  when 
necessary ;  but  he  would  not  add  to  their  number. 


BIOGRAPHY  125 

He  was  far  from  idle,  however.  His  interest  in 
life  and  in  all  questions  of  the  day  remained  keen 
to  the  last.  If  his  aim  had  been  to  prolong  his  life— 
and  he  once  told  Crabbe  Robinson  that  he  wished 
to  see  his  century,  "  to  see  the  world  flower  open 
and  the  great  things  that  will  be,  and  to  help," — 
he  could  not  have  acted  more  wisely,  for  interest 
is  the  great  physical  spring  of  life.  He  was  still 
conscious  of  a  message  to  be  delivered,  he  wished  to 
reinforce  work  he  had  done  in  the  past.  His  tolera- 
tion became  more  wide,  his  judgments  more  gentle, 
his  affections  more  general.  He  voluntarily  and 
consciously  entered  into  old  age,  but  it  was  an  old 
age  of  mental  beauty,  of  good  humours,  of  kindli- 
ness and  wisdom  :  qualities  which  not  only  endeared 
him  to  old  friends,  but  which  also  brought  him  new 
ones,  and  that  not  seldom  among  the  young.  People 
sought  him  out  and  asked  leave  to  visit  him ;  they 
came  with  questions  on  all  sorts  of  subjects  and  went 
away  with  information  gathered  from  wide  reading 
and  wider  observation.  Seldom  can  there  have  been 
a  man  who  was  less,  in  the  unpleasant  American 
phrase,  "  a  back  number."  He  was  in  touch  with 
the  thinking  and  working  men  in  all  his  favoured 
subjects,  and,  if  they  came  to  him  for  advice  or 
information,  he  usually  drew  something  from  them 
for  his  own  mental  store. 

At  this  time  he  was  good  to  see.     Above  six  feet 
in  height  and  but  little  bowed  by  time;    inclined 


126     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

to  stoutness  but  far  from  unwieldiness  ;  bearded 
almost  to  the  waist,  the  hair  grizzled  but  still  show- 
ing some  of  its  original  brown ;  but  slightly  bald 
over  a  high- domed  forehead ;  thick  and  rough  of 
eyebrow  over  keen  blue  eyes  which  flashed  under 
his  gold-rimmed  spectacles  ;  handsome  and  tidy  in 
his  dress,  he  was  a  fine  specimen  of  a  cultured  and 
kindly  gentleman.  His  voice  was  charming,  strong, 
vigorous  and  deep  as  the  thought  behind  it ;  prone 
to  hearty  laughter,  but  not  rarely  a  little  broken 
by  anything  of  grandeur  and  pathos  which  had 
touched  him.  It  was  a  voice  which  comes  back  to 
those  who  knew  him  as  they  read  his  books  or  recall 
his  talk.  His  enunciation  was  remarkably  clear, 
without  any  trace  of  precision,  as  his  conversation 
was  full  of  learning  without  pedantry.  Sitting  by 
his  dwarf  revolving  bookcase,  on  which  rested  his 
snuff  box  and  a  pile  of  books  in  many  languages 
and  on  many  subjects,  he  made  a  picture  which 
never  rises  in  the  memory  of  his  friends  without 
bringing  pleasure  and  thankfulness  with  it. 

In  1887  Wilkinson  brought  out  "  Revelation, 
Mythology,  Correspondences,"  a  work  in  which  he 
set  himself  to  show  that  Revelation  was  not  confined 
to  the  Jewish  and  Christian  Churches,  but  that  the 
ancient  mythologies,  read  by  the  light  of  corre- 
spondences, was  full  of  Divine  teaching ;  that  there 
was,  in  fact,  a  golden  primaeval  age.  This  was  the 
task  to  which  he  devoted  the  last  years  of  his  literary 


BIOGRAPHY  127 

power,  and  much  of  his  work  hereafter  had  the 
promulgation  of  this  idea  for  its  object. 

Of  similar  import  was  the  book  of  1888,  "  Oannes 
according  to  Berosus,"  his  theme  in  this  instance 
being  the  history  of  the  culture  of  the  Chaldeans 
at  the  hands  of  Oannes,  a  Triton  of  the  Persian 
Gulf,  as  related  by  Berosus,  priest  of  Bel's  Temple 
in  the  time  of  Alexander  the  Great ;  it  gives  its 
meaning  according  to  the  doctrine  of  correspondences, 
and  argues  therefrom  its  inspired  nature. 

Wilkinson's  books  brought  him  interesting  corre- 
spondents, and  "  Oannes  "  was  specially  provocative 
in  this  way.  Among  these  letters  was  one  from 
"  your  affectionate  and  indebted  Westland  Marston." 
He  wrote  on  July  11,  1888,  "  Oannes  (I  thought 
before  I  found  you  make  the  same  suggestion,  that 
he  was  nominally,  and  more  than  nominally,  akin 
to  the  Evangelist  'IcocWqcr)  has  quite  absorbed  me. 
Whether  derived  from  the  earliest  Word  or  not,  there 
is  no  doubt,  I  think,  that  all  ancient  legends  and 
mythologies  were  correspondences  to  (and  from  ?) 
the  original  Bible.  I  remember  even  in  the  myth- 
ology of  Ancient  Mexico  (a  remote  region  where 
its  symbols  seem  unlikely  to  have  penetrated), 
there  is  a  striking  adumbration  both  of  the  Lord 
and  the  devil,  and  the  Mexicans  were  looking  forward 
to  the  advent  of  the  former  (?)  as  the  Jews  were 
to  that  of  the  Messiah.  A  literature  of  Divine 
Revelations  in  some  measure  leavening  the  Universe 


128     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

in  the  spiritual  verity  of  which  the  unity  of  all 
languages  (one  day  to  be  established)  is  externally 
the  type.  A  thousand  thanks  for  this  most  interest- 
ing book,  which,  besides  its  general  theme,  arrests 
one,  almost  on  every  page,  by  some  pregnant  hint 
or  suggestion."  It  met  also  with  a  warm  expression 
of  approval  from  Professor  Sayce. 

In  1888  Wilkinson  collected  all  the  information 
possible  about  Jasper  Swedenborg,  Bishop  of  Skara, 
and  father  of  the  more  famous  Emanuel  Swedenborg, 
which  originally  appeared  as  an  article  in  The  New 
Church  Magazine,  but  was  reprinted  for  private 
circulation.  This  was  an  act  of  piety  which  he 
thoroughly  enjoyed. 

"  The  Soul  is  Form  and  doth  the  Body  make  " 
followed  in  1890.  This  was  a  return  to  the  subject 
of  the  lectures  of  1848  and  of  "  The  Human  Body 
and  its  Connexion  with  Man  "  of  1851 ;  but  now 
the  doctrine  of  Correspondences  is  more  plainly 
stated  ;  the  anatomy  is  treated  briefly  ;  its  applica- 
tion is  the  confessed  object  of  the  work.  Concentrat- 
ing his  attention  upon  the  interdependence  of  two 
organs,  Wilkinson  was  able  to  deal  with  them  at 
greater  length.  He  himself  described  the  book  as 
treating  of  "  the  less  known  functions  and  Spiritual 
Correspondences  of  the  heart  and  lungs." 

A  letter  to  Dr  Theobald  during  this  year  shows 
well  how  essential  was  the  part  which  Correspondence 
played  in  Wilkinson's  method  of  thought.  With  him 


BIOGRAPHY  129 

it  was  no  question  of  how  far  illustration  may  be 
used  for  purposes  of  argument ;  visible  things  were 
to  him  more  than  types  of  things  invisible ;  they 
were,  rather,  the  actual  presentation  of  things  un- 
seen and  outside  our  present  ken,  but  capable  of 
yielding  direct  instruction  by  the  use  of  the  Key 
of  Correspondence. 

.  "  I  am  not  in  agreement  with  your  dear  Uncle's 
Psychology.  The  word  Emotions  belongs  to  an  age, 
the  present,  in  which  religious  states  are  transient 
or  passing.  Emotions  are  ultimate  states  of  the  Will 
manifested  to  the  senses ;  the  last  efflorescences 
of  affections.  The  affections  are  the  direct  con- 
tinuations of  the  Will  of  Ruling  Love ;  the  articles 
of  which  the  Will  is  the  heart ;  the  great  constant 
channels  which  carry  the  life  of  the  Will  through 
the  whole  Man ;  and  he  is  what  they  are.  The 
emotions  are  manifested  occasional  ends  of  the 
affections." 

"  Religion  with  man  must  reside  in  the  Will, 
or  it  is  nowhere  else.  There  residing,  it  is  a  new 
conscience,  formed  divinely  by  truth  of  doctrine 
committed  to  life — lived.  Faith  and  conscience 
are  here  at  one,  or  the  same  thing.  Man  directly 
makes  Will,  faith  and  conscience,  '  by  acting 
sincerely,  justly  and  faithfully  '  under  the  Lord's 
guidance  in  all  his  day's  works  or  duties.  He 
acknowledges  that  it  is  all  the  Lord's  mercy  which 

enables  him  to  do  this,  but  he  does  not  in  the  same 

i 


ISO     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

sense  feel  it ;  but  feels,  and  is  to  feel,  that  he  is  doing 
it  himself.  Otherwise  he  would  be  a  Nothing.  I 
do  not  believe  in  '  the  sense  of  infinite  dependence/ 
(here  in  a  pencil  note  is  added  "7  do,  but  the  word 
4  absolute '  is  better  than  '  infinite '  ")  or  that 
Angel  or  Man  ever  had  it.  The  sense  of  independence 
of  God,  constantly  given  by  Him,  but  intellectually 
acknowledged  to  be  only  an  appearance  necessary 
for  finite  existence,  seems  more  true." 

On  June  3,  1892,  Wilkinson  wrote  to  his  daughter 
Mrs  Pertz  on  his  eightieth  birthday. 

"  Your  strong  hand- writing  and  dear  heart- 
writing  do  me  good,  and  make  me  grateful  on  my 
eightieth  birthday.  It  is  a  long  life  to  review,  and 
God  the  Lord  is  merciful.  I  have  to  thank  and  sing 
praises  to  Him  for  His  mercies  beyond  all  deserts. 
She  who  is  with  Him  gave  me  dear  children,  and 
brought  them  up  in  virtue  and  enlightenment, 
and  they  and  grandchildren  and  great-grandchildren 
are  round  me.  May  we  be  all  '  the  people  of  His 
pasture  and  the  sheep  of  His  hand  ! ' 

In  this,  his  eighty-first  year,  Wilkinson  produced 
two  books.  The  first,  "  The  African  and  the  True 
Christian  Religion,  his  Magna  Charta,"  a  study 
in  the  writings  of  Emanuel  Swedenborg,  "was 
yet  another  of  his  arguments  in  favour  of  widely- 
spread  primaeval  knowledge,  as  well  as  a  plea  for 
a  fuller  recognition  of  the  Negro's  brotherhood  to 
the  white  man."  The  second,  "  Epidemic  Man  and 


BIOGRAPHY  131 

Ms  Visitations  "  was,  in  his  own  words  to  a  friend 
44  intended  to  assert  that  all  our  Diseases  are  our  own 
deeds,  confronting  us,  by  conversion  of  forces  into 
bodily  ruin  and  planetary  catastrophe  "  ;  a  doctrine 
which,  if  it  could  but  gain  general  acceptance,  would 
immensely  encourage  "  physiological  righteousness." 

On  August  8,  1893,  Wilkinson  suffered  another 
great  loss  in  the  death  of  his  eldest  daughter,  Mrs 
Pertz.  During  her  widowhood  she  had  lived  much 
-with  her  father  and  had  acted  as  mistress  of  his  home. 
She  was  a  woman  of  great  understanding ;  of  great 
will  power,  often  unsuspected  under  her  gentleness 
and  self-forgetfulness.  Her  loss  was  a  grievous 
one  and  shook  Wilkinson  severely.  Two  grand- 
daughters, Emma  and  Florence  Pertz,  however, 
were  left  to  brighten  and  comfort  the  home. 

Journeys  were  now  difficult,  but  Wilkinson  was 
still  able  to  visit  his  daughters  at  Pontrilas  Court 
and  at  Sevenoaks.  He  also  enjoyed  staying  with 
the  Countess  de  Noailles  at  Eastbourne,  who  shared 
his  views  on  many  subjects,  and  who  to  the  end 
remained  his  friend  and  patient. 

Still,  though  strength  was  failing,  the  will  was 
firm ;  and  the  literary  output  continued,  though 
it  cost  more  toil,  and  was  less  rapidly  executed ; 
but  it  showed  no  loss  of  power  or  of  force  and  felicity 
in  expression. 

During  this  year  the  Reverend  Professor  Tafel, 
a  friend  of  many  years'  standing  died,  with  whom 


JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

Wilkinson  had  been  closely  associated  in  the  trans- 
lation and  editing  of  Swedenborg's  work  on  "  The 
Brain,"  which  Tafel  ultimately  dedicated  to  his 
friend.  Wilkinson  had  revised  the  proofs  page  by 
page,  being  probably  the  only  Englishman  of  sufficient 
knowledge  at  once  of  Swedenborg  and  Anatomy 
to  undertake  the  task.  The  friendship  thus  formed 
was  a  close  one,  and  its  close  (in  so  far  as  death  could 
close  any  friendship  of  Wilkinson's)  saddened  him. 
He  remained  in  correspondence  with  Mrs  Tafel  for 
years. 

The  following  letter  is  characteristic  of  the  man  at 
this  time,  full  of  old  memories,  failing  somewhat 
in  bodily  strength,  but  with  a  firm  and  faithful 
hold  upon  present  interests  l : — 

"  Thank  you  for  the  beautiful  ferns  and  flowers- 
My  fifty-sixth  Wedding  Day  has  been  peaceful, 
and  full  of  memories.  All  of  you  are  the  garland 
given  me  by  that  faithful  and  excellent  wife. 

"  Dr  Dudgeon  has  just  been  here,  and  finds  me 
on  the  mend.  I  have  a  bronchial  attack ;  but  it 
is  yielding  to  his  treatment.  To-day  I  am  down 
earlier  than  usual. 

"  Come  when  you  can,  but  do  not  fatigue  yourself. 

"  Our  international  relations  are  distressful.  We 
are  necessarily  an  isolated  nation.  An  island  with 
vast  present  possessions  must  be.  We  don't  easily 
form  alliances,  in  order  that  we  may  not  be  re- 

1  Letter  to  his  daughter,  Mrs  F.  C.  Mathews,  January  5,  1896. 


BIOGRAPHY  133 

sponsible  for  concerns  not  our  own.  Hence  we  are 
thought  proud  and  haughty,  and  every  power  has 
a  pluck  at  us.  And  we  are  a  peculiar  people,  I 
believe  in  a  good  sense.  All  these  are  dislikeable 
points.  May  the  Lord  of  Nations  make  us  just  and 
honest,  and  brave  therein  !  " 

There  was  something  of  the  spirit  of  this  last 
paragraph,  a  spirit  of  statesmanship  rather  than 
of  politics,  in  his  next  book,  "  The  Affections  of 
Armed  Powers  :  a  plea  for  a  School  of  little  Nations." 
He  dedicated  it  to  his  son-in-law  Mr  Frank  Mathews, 
with  whom  a  strong  intellectual  sympathy  and 
mutual  esteem  ever  existed. 

Another  book  of  this  year  (1897)  was  the  sub- 
ject of  much  thought  and  of  considerable  study. 
Wilkinson  himself  said  that  "  it  had  loomed  in  his 
mind  for  fifty  years  of  cogitative  thought."  As 
far  back  as  1890,  writing  to  his  friend  Professor 
Victor  Rydberg,  to  acknowledge  his  book  "  Fadernas 
Gudasaga,"  he  said  that  he  had  long  meditated 
a  spiritual  commentary  upon  "  Voluspa,"  and  adds, 
"  Remains  of  good,  tenderly  remembered  from 
innocent  times,  are  the  uncorrupted  dwellings  of 
the  Lord  in  men,  and  the  fresh  starting  points 
of  salvation."  And,  on  another  occasion,  he  wrote, 
"  I  read  almost  all  the  Norse  mythology  into  an 
internal  sense,  corresponding  to  the  Revealed 
internal  sense."  Wilkinson  was  deeply  learned  in 
Icelandic,  Swedish,  and  German  Mythology,  and  had 


134-     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

contemplated  a  thorough  treatment  of  the  whole 
subject,  but  he  fell  back  upon  "  Voluspa  "  as  within 
his  limits  of  power  and  time.  How  earnestly  he 
pursued  his  theme,  the  following  extract  from  a 
letter  to  Mr  Ion  a  Hjaltalin  will  show.  "  My  effort, 
which  must  be  merely  tentative  and  ground-breaking, 
to  find  whether  the  seed  can  be  sown  upon  it,  so  as 
to  come  towards  revelation,  is  of  a  different  kind 
(to  some  previous  etymological  considerations).  All 
I  can  say  is  that  as  I  proceed,  praying  that  some 
of  the  wise  and  simple  little  children  above  may  be 
sent  to  open  my  mind,  I  do  make  progress,  and  find 
a  connected  chain,  or  a  road  with  good  bridges,  in 
parts  of  the  '  Voluspa '  which  seem  most  abrupt. 
And,  for  all  I  discern,  the  Prophecy  needs  no  altering 
or  the  order  of  its  chants" 

"  The  Book  of  Edda  called  <  Voluspa,'  a  study  in 
its  scriptural  and  Spiritual  Correspondences  "  deals 
with  the  full  internal  interpretation  of  the  Prophecy 
of  the  Vala.  The  work  is  prettily  dedicated  to  his 
granddaughters,  "  My  free  comrades  in  life  and 
work,"  as  the  studies  of  a  grandfather. 

There  is  some  special  quality  of  wear  and  work 
in  that  generation  of  old  people  which  is  now  very 
rapidly  disappearing,  the  children  of  the  men  who 
broke  Napoleon  at  Waterloo.  Whether  their  children, 
in  their  turn,  will  astonish  their  descendants  by 
force  and  longevity  is  questionable.  But  it  is  certain 
that  the  generation  to  which  Wilkinson  belonged 


BIOGRAPHY  135 

was  blessed  with  a  continuance  of  force  beyond 
what  is  ordinary.  In  them  was  the  saying,  "  Those 
whom  the  Gods  love  die  young,"  explained  as 
meaning,  "  Those  whom  the  Gods  love  are  young 
until  they  die."  But,  though  it  appears  postponed, 
there  is  a  period  for  them  too ;  and,  one  by  one,  we 
see  these  "  grand  old  men  "  gathered  to  their  fathers. 
Slowly  and  in  the  main  without  suffering,  Wilkinson 
realized  physically  that  he  was  nearing  his  end. 
"  I  am  weak  rather,  but  fairly  well,"  he  wrote,1 
"  and  I  believe  that  if  I  had  faith  to  begin  I  could 
get  on  with  my  writing.  But  I  fear  I  am  '  giving 
in,'  and  making  my  entry  into  the  eighty-fifth  room 
of  existence  into  an  excuse  for  being  served  instead 
of  serving."  But  he  was  far  indeed  from  complaint.2 
"  I  am  now  very  infirm,  and  can  hardly  do  anything 
of  a  day's  work.  This  was  also  the  reason  of  my 
long  silence  on  which  your  ladies  commented.  I 
am  weak  and  poorly.  So  you  must  make  allowance 
for  me,  and,  if  I  can  write  but  seldom,  know  that 
I  value  intercourse  with  your  mind  highly,  as  I 
have  always  done,  since  I  knew  you.  My  Grand- 
daughters, after  a  long  German  tour,  are  now  at 
home  for  the  winter,  and  I  have  every  blessing  that 
old  age  requires.  They  are  treasures." 

Of  "  that  which  should  accompany  old  age,  as 
Honour,  love,  obedience,  troops  of  friends,"  nothing 

1  Letter  to  Mrs  Ruxton,  August  8,  1896. 

2  Letter  to  Mr  Thomson,  October  28,  1896. 


136     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

was  lacking — nor  was  the  outlook  into  the  future 
a  doubting  one.  He  wrote  to  a  friend 1  who  told  him 
of  a  dream  concerning  one  "  gone  before." 

"It  is  the  beginning  of  a  world  of  Revelations, 
of  which  the  last,  to  those  who  can  receive  it,  is 
permanence  and  Heaven.  How  such  assurances 
should  chasten  Churchyard  theology,  and  teach  that 
the  days  of  death  are  short  for  everyone  and  that 
resurrection  out  of  the  body  begins  immediately ! 
And  then  that  the  Use  of  having  been  born  in  nature 
shines  out  before  good  spirits  as  soon  as  they  awaken. 
The  dead  world  has  been  the  A.B.C.  and  forerunner 
of  the  living  world :  the  dead  Sun  of  the  living  Sun : 
no  metaphor  or  parable,  but  a  Spiritual  Orb  with 
the  Lord  God  Almighty  veiled  in  its  glory.  It  is 
lovely  to  think,  lovelier  to  know,  that  the  landscapes 
of  heaven  are  peopled  with  trees,  with  birds,  with 
animals,  and  that  all  these  are  divine  Uses  and 
continual  scriptures  of  instruction,  varying  from 
state  to  state." 

In  1898  Wilkinson  found  great  pleasure  in  the 
marriage  of  his  elder  granddaughter,  Miss  Emma 
Leonora  Pertz,  to  Mr  E.  J.  Payne,  author  of  "  The 
History  of  the  New  World  called  America."  He 
was  a  learned  and  highly  cultured  man,  congenial 
in  tastes  to  his  new  relations.  It  was  an  event 
which  threw  a  cheerful  gleam  of  light  upon  Wilkinson's 
last  months. 

1  Letter  to  Mrs  Roberts,  May  20,  1897. 


BIOGRAPHY  137 

There  remained  one  more  piece  of  literary  work 
for  the  full  brain  and  tired  hand  of  the  man  of 
eighty-seven.  The  last  book,  like  the  first,  con- 
tributed to  the  Swedenborgian  interpretation  of 
revelation.  The  preface  to  Blake's  "  Songs  of 
Innocence  and  Experience "  was  dated  July  9, 
1839  when  Wilkinson  was  but  twenty-seven  years 
old ;  he  dated  his  dedication  of  "  Isis  and 
Osiris  in  the  Book  of  Respirations;  Prophecy  in 
the  Churches;  In  the  Word;  God  with  Us; 
The  Revelation  of  Jesus  Christ,"  to  Dr  Alfred 
Wiedemann,  Professor  in  the  University  of  Bonn, 
on  September  16,  1899.  In  the  first  he  quoted 
Swedenborg  as  giving  the  only  possible  explanation 
of  Blake's  inspiration  :  in  the  last  he  demonstrates 
by  the  Doctrine  of  Correspondences  the  internal 
meaning  of  an  ancient  Egyptian  scroll.  He  had 
passed  away  before  the  latter,  the  last  of  a  long 
series,  had  reached  his  hand. 

Less  than  a  week  before  his  death  he  wrote  to 
his  daughter,  Mrs  F.  C.  Mathews,  to  celebrate  her 
birthday.  He  said,  "  I  am  well  and  surrounded  by 
your  bounties.  ...  I  had  hoped  to  have  my  little 
Book,  '  Isis  and  Osiris  in  the  Book  of  Respirations  ' 
on  your  table ;  but  it  will  come  to  you  later.  In- 
asmuch as  the  fresh  air  is  strength,  my  unlearned 
Tract,  for  such  it  is,  may  carry  you  both  through 
some  journeys  of  sight  and  thought,  ending  in  new 
regions.  Since  boyhood  I  have  been  a  student 


138     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

of  spirit,  material  and  substantial,  and  it  is  for  me 
a  sacred  continuation  unbroken  to  the  end  of  the 
chain." 

There  was  nothing  violent  in  the  manner  of  his 
death :  the  strength  of  body  failed  and  the  spirit 
returned  to  God  who  gave  it.  Surrounded  by  all 
whom  he  loved  best  on  earth,  this  lifelong  searcher 
for  the  unknown  stepped  into  the  Valley  of  the 
Shadow,  nothing  doubting  that  the  comfort  of 
the  Shepherd's  rod  and  staff  would  be  with  him, 
confidently  expecting  the  company  and  enlighten- 
ment of  those  who  had  gone  before  him  to  the  Home 
of  the  Father. 

It  should  be  possible  for  one  who  has  enjoyed 
acquaintance  with  Garth  Wilkinson,  with  his  friends, 
with  his  many  published  writings,  with  his  most 
intimate  private  correspondence,  to  indicate  some 
cardinal  points  in  his  nature  around  which  his  motives 
and  activities  were  wont  to  revolve.  Three  such 
convenient  points  for  studying  his  character  seem 
to  be  his  mysticism,  his  transcendentalism  and  his 
impatience. 

Mysticism  is  a  word  too  often  rendered  obscure 
by  misuse.  It  should  not  be  used  to  signify  mystery 
or  vagueness  of  metaphysical  aim.  It  is  here  used 
of  the  sense  of  the  immanence,  or  indwelling  presence, 
of  God  in  the  nature  of  man.  Such  a  sense  is  seldom 
entirely  lacking  in  individuals,  and  it  would  appear 


BIOGRAPHY  139 

to  play  an  essential  part  in  the  scheme  of  every 
religious  system.  The  mystic  is  one  who  possesses 
this  sense  in  a  high  degree  and  cultivates  it  as  the 
most  noble  part  of  his  being.  The  Christian  mystic 
is  one  who  cultivates  this  sense  by  constant  reference 
to  the  incarnation  of  Christ,  the  doctrine  which 
deduces  from  the  human  nature  of  the  Divine  Man 
a  promise  of  an  increasing  godliness  for  himself  and 
his  fellows.  This  sense  was  strongly  marked  in  Dr 
Wilkinson :  it  found  expression  more  frequently 
and  more  fully  as  his  nature  developed,  and  as  the 
aim  of  his  life-work  defined  itself  before  him.  The 
central  importance  of  the  Incarnation  is  dwelt  upon 
with  growing  insistence  in  both  his  books  and  his 
letters.  He  himself  was  used  to  reserve  the  word 
Theology  for  the  Word  of  God  communicated  in 
revelation ;  but  his  own  message,  consisting  as  it 
did  throughout  of  teaching  with  regard  to  the  re- 
spective natures  of  God  and  man  and  of  the  relations 
and  duties  consequent  upon  those  natures,  can 
scarcely  be  classified  as  other  than  "  theological " 
according  to  the  accepted  use  of  terms. 

A  deep  religious  instinct  showed  itself  early 
in  his  life,  in  the  musings  and  night-terrors,  and 
in  the  paradoxical  rebellions  of  his  childhood, 
which  occupy  a  relatively  large  space  in  his  frag- 
ment of  Autobiography.  From  the  end  of  the  time 
covered  by  that  short  document,  we  have  little 
evidence  of  his  inner  life  until  he  began  the  copious 


140     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

letter-writing  which  lasted  to  his  death.  But,  he 
confesses  himself,  in  his  intimate  letters  to  his 
fiancee,  as  having  passed  through  a  period  of  doubt 
in  his  early  manhood,  and  even  speaks  of  himself 
as  having  been  a  "  rank  skeptic  "  during  some  of 
that  time.  It  is  not  a  rare  experience  of  youth ;  not 
seldom  it  points  rather  to  immature  and  necessarily 
unsatisfactory  attempts  to  fathom  the  deepest 
subjects  than  to  any  mental  attribute  which  will 
work  permanent  effect  upon  character.  It  was  so 
in  his  case. 

A  new  faith  in  God  and  a  new  human  love  reached 
Garth  Wilkinson  almost  simultaneously  in  his  in- 
troduction to  the  writings  of  Swedenborg  and  his 
attachment  to  the  lady  who  became  his  wife ;  and 
his  progress  in  both  may  be  traced  in  letters  neither 
fitted  nor  intended  for  quotation,  but  which  make 
it  plain  that  each  of  these  elements  helped  the  other 
in  his  new  awakening.  The  force  of  this  fresh  grasp 
of  his  relation  to  his  Maker  and  to  his  fellows  endured 
and  increased  throughout  Wilkinson's  life,  and  his 
character  appears  to  have  grown  deeper  and  gentler 
as  the  years  went  by,  under  the  influence  of  the  two 
collateral  factors.  For  the  rest,  it  will  suffice  to 
point  out  here  that  all  knowledge  which  came  in 
his  way  and  all  experience  which  life  brought  to 
him  were  sublimated  into  contributions  toward 
the  comprehension  and  cultivation  of  the  divine  in 
man. 


BIOGRAPHY 

The  essential  part  which  faith  in  the  Godhead 
and  manhood  of  Christ  played  in  Wilkinson's 
mysticism,  and  the  attitude  of  that  mysticism 
toward  pantheism,  will  be  best  considered  in  a 
chapter  devoted  to  his  religious  position  as  a  pupil 
of  his  great  master  Swedenborg. 

Transcendentalism,  again,  is  a  term  which  needs 
careful  definition  before  use.  It  has  at  least  three 
different  significations.  Firstly,  it  was  applied  to 
a  school  of  philosophy  most  commonly  associated 
with  the  name  of  Kant.  Secondly,  the  term  was 
tacked  on  to  a  dreary  religious  sect  of  theists  who 
affirmed  nothing  but  the  existence  of  a  God  and 
promulgated  a  dry  optimism  concerning  the  future 
of  our  race.  Thirdly,  the  name  was  applied,  (no 
man  knowing  wherefore,  and  themselves  least  of 
all)  to  an  ill  defined  intellectual  and  religious  move- 
ment among  certain  distinguished  New  Englanders 
of  whom  Everett,  Emerson  and  Channing  may  be 
named  as  prominent,  in  the  first  half  of  the  nine- 
teenth century.  Somebody  has  defined  the  move- 
ment as  "a  pilgrimage  from  the  idolatrous  world 
of  creeds  and  rituals  to  the  Temple  of  the  Living  God 
in  the  soul ;  "  and  it  is  not  easy  to  include  all  those 
who  claimed  to  march  under  its  banner  within  any 
stricter  limitation.  Indeed,  limits,  formularies  and 
definitions  were  their  abhorrence. 

No  reader  or  acquaintance  of  Wilkinson's  could 
be  in  any  danger  of  classing  him  among  the  philo- 


JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

sophic  Transcendentalists.  His  own  attitude  towards 
the  Kantian  school  is  very  clearly  displayed  in  the 
Introductory  Remarks  with  which  he  prefaced 
his  translation  from  Swedenborg,  "  Outlines  of  a 
Philosophical  Argument  of  the  Infinite  "  (1847). 

"  In  a  word  the  upshot  of  Transcendentalism 
was  to  regard  all  sensation,  knowledge  and  thought 
as  subjective,  and  to  make  the  individual  believe 
all  the  manifestations  of  God,  nature  or  humanity 
which  are  made  to  his  mind,  as  so  many  presentations 
of  his  own  being.  In  this  way,  each  man  becomes 
shut  in  the  case  of  an  opaque  and  impenetrable 
selfhood,  which  not  only  absorbs  and  destroys 
all  outward  truth,  but  makes  it  impossible  to 
have  any  confidence  in  the  existence  of  our 
brother  man.  To  accept  these  consequences  is  the 
manner  in  which  Transcendentalism  has  answered 
scepticism !  " 

It  is  clear,  too,  that  the  Theistic  Transcendentalisms 
of  our  classification  could  claim  no  adherent  in 
Wilkinson.  By  a  process  of  exclusion,  therefore, 
we  are  left  to  consider  his  position  among  the  last 
of  our  list. 

Perhaps  the  only  comprehensive  bond  which 
would  gain  recognition  among  those  whom  for 
brevity  we  will  call  the  New  England  Transcenden- 
talists was  freedom  from  traditional  ties.  Each 
enjoyed  content  while  he  followed  individual  con- 
science by  such  light  of  revelation  as  he  had ;  and 


BIOGRAPHY  143 

each  disclaimed  all  fettering  limitations  which  at 
any  time  marred  that  content.  There  was  no 
Church,  no  Brotherhood,  no  organization  among 
them :  they  were  men  and  women  seeking  Spiritual 
freedom  by  the  light  of  conscience.  In  this  alone 
they  shared  sympathy  :  by  this  alone  they  recognized 
each  other  in  the  world  over  which  they  were  spread. 
It  was  therefore  quite  consistent  with  his  Trans- 
cendentalism that  Wilkinson  should  claim  some 
measure  of  theo-pneustic  inspiration  for  Emanuel 
Swedenborg,  that  he  should  at  the  same  time  be 
a  Communicant  of  the  Church  of  England,  and 
that  he  should  regard  both  Swedenborg  and  the 
Church  of  England  as  Divine,  but  temporary,  pro- 
visions for  man  in  his  present  state.  But  he  held 
that  the  Creator  transcended  all  his  creatures,  and 
that  new  revelations  of  the  Nature  and  Will  of  the 
Creator  were  constantly  occurring,  both  through 
the  medium  of  Correspondences  and  otherwise ; 
and  that  such  revelations  were  to  be  constantly 
expected  and  acknowledged. 

This  faculty  for  pushing  forward  towards  the 
unknown,  this  readiness  to  accept  new  light  from 
any  source,  caused  uneasiness  amongst  those  who 
were  his  best  wishers  and  most  competent  admirers. 
Thus,  Emerson,  writing  of  Wilkinson  soon  after  his 
own  second  visit  to  England,  in  1847,  gave  him 
encouragement  high  and  stately,  but  added  a  warning 
in  clear  words : 


144     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

"  Wilkinson,  the  editor  of  Swedenborg,  the  anno- 
tator  of  Fourrier,  and  the  champion  of  Hahnemann, 
has  brought  to  metaphysics  and  to  psychology  a 
native  vigour,  with  a  catholic  perception  of  relations, 
equal  to  the  highest  attempts,  and  a  rhetoric  like 
the  armoury  of  the  invincible  knights  of  old.  There 
is  in  the  action  of  his  mind  a  long  Atlantic  roll  not 
known  except  in  deepest  waters,  and  only  lacking 
what  ought  to  accompany  such  powers,  a  manifest 
centrality.  If  his  mind  does  not  rest  in  immovable 
biases,  perhaps  the  orbit  is  larger,  and  the  return 
is  not  yet ;  but  a  master  should  inspire  a  confidence 
that  he  will  adhere  to  his  convictions,  and  give  his 
present  studies  always  the  same  high  place." 
(Emerson.  English  Traits.  Literature). 

There  was  in  the  earlier  days  of  Dr  Wilkinson's 
conscious  powers,  a  time  when  he  was  still  unversed 
in  exercising  them.  It  was  difficult  to  display 
manifest  centrality,  to  avoid  a  suggestion  of  giddiness, 
while  new  vistas  of  possibility  spread  themselves 
at  each  point  of  view.  Confidence  that  he  would 
adhere  to  his  convictions  was  possible  to  friends 
who  knew  the  inherent  rash  honesty  of  their  man  : 
but  there  had  to  be  a  season  when  the  man  was 
himself  uncertain  which  of  his  then  "  present  studies  " 
would  absorb  him  and  exhibit  itself  as  his  pre- 
dominant objective.  It  would  have  appalled  an 
ordinary  inquirer  concerning  Swedenborgianism  to 
read  such  expressions  as  Dr  Wilkinson  wrote  to 


BIOGRAPHY  145 

his  friend  Mr  Henry  James,  when  he  was  writing 
of  his  lectures  (October  26,  1848)  :- 

"  I  begin  to  find  that  the  age  is  indeed  ripe  for  all 
that  can  be  told  it ;  only  it  is  in  that  degree  of 
childish  weakness,  that  the  Manner  is  indispensable 
to  the  matter ;  the  terrible  novelties  must  be  said 
pretty,  and  then  they  excite  nothing  but  pleasant 
tastes.  ...  I  cannot  have  anything  but  hope 
of  the  whole  world,  because  I  see  everywhere  either 
earnest  search  for  truth,  as  in  France,  or  steady 
obedience,  as  here ;  and  this  ass,  or  that  horse,  will 
alike  serve  for  the  august  riders  into  the  earthly 
and  the  heavenly  Jerusalems. 

"  This  matter  of  growth  is  with  me  a  most  interest- 
ing fact,  as  it  places  each  age  in  freedom,  and  eman- 
cipates all  children  from  the  overweening  dominion 
of  their  best  and  gentlest  predecessors.  A  Sweden- 
borg  is  good  and  great,  but  the  babies  of  the  new 
generation  are  born  to  estates  just  fresh  from  God, 
and  which  Swedenborg  could  not  even  conceive. 
All  men  are  new  creations  and  want  new  creations 
wherein  and  whereby  to  live." 

The  return  of  the  forecast  is  not  yet.  Forty 
years  have  passed,  and  the  New  Church  has  not 
yet  transcended  and  outgrown  the  teaching  of 
Swedenborg.  A  series  of  bright  visions,  born  of 
new  illumination,  cannot  be  profitably  measured 
by  the  foot-rule  or  tested  by  laws  of  perspective. 
The  years  were  to  teach,  as  is  their  way,  that 


146    JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

illumination  is  a  difficult  possession  to  transfer,  even 
by  the  most  persuasive  of  manners.  Experience  was 
to  clip  the  wings  of  optimism,  but  never  to  break 
them.  A  carefully  limited  field  of  work  had 
yet  to  be  defined  and  followed.  Plodding  work, 
patient  reiteration,  a  brilliant  versatility,  indomitable 
perseverance,  were  the  qualities  which  forty  years 
were  to  educate  and  spend. 

This  "  exorbitance,"  this  tendency  to  fling  off 
red-hot  fragments  from  the  periphery  at  unexpected 
angles,  was  not,  even  while  it  was  most  in  action, 
altogether  hidden  from  the  man  himself :  and  he 
was  working  towards  a  true  consistency  of  aim  and 
expression.  In  his  next  letter  to  the  same  friend 
he  writes  (November  22,  1848),  relative  to  some 
untraced  communication,  to  The  Harbinger  of  New 
York  :- 

"  I  should  rather  that  my  paper  on  Correspondence 
appeared  without  my  name :  it  is  a  transition 
paper,  and  I  have  already  outgrown  it  in  some  parts. 
Besides,  I  regret  now  all  that  I  have  printed,  except 
only  my  Translations.  Please  God,  better  and  graver 
things  are  to  come  from  me  than  what  have  been 


seen." 


But  transcendentalism,  in  the  sense  of  eagerness 
and  readiness  to  discard  limitations  and  to  outgrow 
the  partial  views  of  yesterday,  remained  the  chief 
and  not  least  lovable  traits  in  the  man's  nature 
while  he  remained  in  sight. 


BIOGRAPHY  147 

Closely  allied  to  this  was  the  third  of  Wilkinson's 
noteworthy  characteristics,  one  which,  for  lack 
of  a  better  name  I  have  called  impatience.  It  was 
impatience  of  no  ignoble  order.  The  man  was  so 
seized  of  the  nearness  and  reality  of  the  unseen 
spiritual  world,  so  desirous  of  revelation,  so  anxious 
for  "  Influx,"  that  he  suffered  what  amounted 
to  intellectual  torment.  Was  there  no  prayer  in 
answer  to  which  the  veil  would  rise  ?  Was  there 
a  trumpet  call  which  would  raze  the  dividing  wall  and 
leave  a  practicable  breach  for  the  besieger  ?  Could 
he  find,  even  in  unlikely  places,  some  overlooked 
hint,  the  secret  key  to  the  locked  door  ?  The 
ultimate  object  of  his  search  was  the  coming  down 
from  heaven  of  the  New  Jerusalem,  the  appointed 
hour  of  which  Swedenborg  (and  the  Gospel  long  before 
Swedenborg)  had  proclaimed  as  beyond  human  ken. 
In  the  early  days  of  his  adoption  of  the  Sweden- 
borgian  revelations,  it  seemed  to  him  that  the  time 
could  not  be  long,  and  the  service  of  standing  and 
waiting  was  proportionately  severe.  He  sought 
for  signs  which  should  support  the  urgency  of  his 
hope,  and  sought  them  in  strange  places.  There 
was  no  path  along  what  are  regarded  as  the  boundaries 
of  the  unknown  down  which  his  footsteps  might  not 
be  traced :  mesmerism,  hypnotism,  spiritualism, 
with  its  apparatus  of  rappings,  mediums,  and 
clairvoyance,  healing  as  an  immediate  divine  gift, 
Fourrierism  and  T.  L.  Harrisism — he  explored  them 


148    JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

all,  with  this  impatience  of  his  quest  to  drive  him, 
and  discovered  each  to  be  a  cul-de-sac  in  the  maze 
before  he  abandoned  it. 

But  if  this  impatience  was  not  ignoble,  it  was 
quite  unscientific.  To  educate  the  eye  into  that 
of  a  Seer  may  make  it  the  eye  of  the  Poet,  but  will 
never  make  it  the  eye  of  the  Scientist.  As  Coleridge 
has  said,  "  Poetry  is  not  the  antithesis  to  prose, 
but  to  Science  "  ;  Science  demands  "  the  patience 
for  uncorrelated  fragments,  the  endurance  of  in- 
completeness." The  uncorrelation  of  fragments  was 
the  very  subject  of  Garth  Wilkinson's  impatience ; 
incompleteness  was  the  very  last  thing  which  he  found 
it  easy  to  endure.  His  message,  couched  in  terms 
of  speculation,  suffered.  For,  though  he  passed 
his  youth  in  days  when  speculation  was  popular 
and,  was,  in  consequence,  gladly  heard,  the  years 
of  his  matured  powers  were  years  of  scientific 
expansion  and  advance,  and  a  message  conceived 
in  hostility  to  science  met  deaf  ears  or,  at  best, 
a  partial  welcome.  The  world  now  rejects  en- 
thymemes  and  demands  scientific  proof  of  the 
first  two  figures  of  your  syllogism  before  it  will 
examine  the  third.  But  if  from  one  point  of  view 
he  appears  as  the  last  of  the  Transcendentalists, 
as  the  voice  of  one  crying  in  the  wilderness  to  a 
small  congregation,  there  is  another  view  equally 
possible  and  more  just.  Age,  inevitable  disappoint- 
ment, and,  above  all,  spiritual  growth,  quieted  the 


BIOGRAPHY  149 

impatience  we  speak  of.  But,  if  he  realized  that 
the  mills  of  God  grind  slowly,  Garth  Wilkinson 
suffered  no  doubt  as  to  the  thoroughness  of  their 
working  or  the  nature  of  their  work.  It  might  be 
that  the  coming  of  the  New  Jerusalem  could  not 
be  hastened,  that  it  could  not  even  be  discerned 
as  nearer,  within  the  lifetime  of  man ;  but  it  could 
be  furthered,  the  paths  could  be  made  straight 
and  the  crooked  places  plain :  and  to  this  task  he 
addressed  his  pen  almost  literally  to  his  last  hour. 
He  found  his  task  in  the  demonstration  of  corre- 
spondences :  he  pursued  and  enriched  it  from  his 
great  store  of  varied  learning.  One  had  spoken 
of  him  as  being  "  half  a  century  before  the  intelli- 
gence of  the  world."  x  If  the  estimate  is  correct, 
the  fruit  of  his  mind  and  spirit  will  be  found  ready 
for  the  taste  and  appetite  of  a  generation  who  knew 
not  the  man  on  earth  :  they  would  enjoy  the  banquet 
the  better  for  the  presence  of  their  host ! 

But  he  himself  was  under  no  illusion  as  to  the 
amount  of  acceptance  accorded  to  him,  and  it  troubled 
him  little  if  his  listeners  were  few  :  his  labour  was, 
so  far  as  in  him  lay,  to  make  them  fit.  Late  in  his 
life  he  wrote  to  a  friend : 2  "  In  a  few  thousand  years, 
the  coming  of  the  New  Jerusalem  may  be  discern- 
ible in  love  to  God  and  love  to  man :  but  a  good 
many  cycles  of  World-overthrow  may  be  gone  through 

1  Letter  from  Dr  Pearson,  April  7,  1878. 

2  Letter  to  Mr  John  Marten,  December  23,  1893. 


150    JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

in  the  interval."  He  has  clearly  learned  the  lesson 
of  patience  as  regards  his  great  hope.  Writing,  at 
the  age  of  eighty-five,  to  his  friend  Mr  John  Thomson, 
of  Candorrat,  Glasgow,  a  bookseller,  he  says, 
(January  17,  1898) :  "  Do  not  attribute  carelessness 
to  me  for  not  writing  to  you  earlier :  I  have  been 
so  anxiously  working  at  my  unpopular  book-making. " 
He  was  not  seeking  his  own  glory. 

Emerson  wrote  in  his  lecture  on  "  Swedenborg, 
or  the  Mystic  "  :  "  Swedenborg  printed  these  scientific 
works  in  the  ten  years  from  1734  to  1744,  and  they 
remained  from  that  time  neglected :  and  now, 
after  their  century  is  complete,  he  has  at  last  found 
a  pupil  in  Mr  Wilkinson,  in  London,  a  philosopher 
critic,  with  a  co-equal  vigour  of  understanding  and 
imagination  comparable  only  to  Lord  Bacon's,  who 
has  restored  his  master's  buried  books  to  the  day, 
and  transferred  them,  with  every  advantage,  from 
their  forgotten  Latin  into  English,  to  go  round  the 
world,  in  our  commercial  and  conquering  tongue. 
This  startling  reappearance  of  Swedenborg,  after 
a  hundred  years,  in  his  pupil,  is  not  the  least  re- 
markable fact  in  his  history.  Aided,  it  is  said, 
by  the  munificence  of  Mr  Clissold,  and  also  by  his 
literary  skill,  this  piece  of  poetic  justice  is  done. 
The  admirable  preliminary  discourses  with  which 
Mr  Wilkinson  has  enriched  these  volumes,  throw 
all  the  contemporary  philosophy  of  England  into 
shade,  and  leave  me  nothing  to  say  on  their  proper 


BIOGRAPHY  151 

ground."  The  praise  is  high  but  not  unmeasured, 
Laetus  sum  laudari  me  abs  te,  pater,  a  laudato 
viro,  but  there  is  a  praise  still  higher,  of  which 
those  who  love  him  trust  that  he  may  be  found 
worthy.  Garth  Wilkinson  esteemed  himself  a 
"  steward  of  the  mysteries,"  and  "it  is  required 
of  a  steward  that  he  shall  be  found  faithful." 


CHAPTER  II 

THE    SWEDENBORGIAN 

GARTH  WILKINSON'S  religion  was  the  centre  of  his 
life.  All  problems  which  presented  themselves 
to  him  were  referred  to  it;  his  motives  emanated 
from  it.  He  was  early  introduced  to  Christianity 
and  revelation  as  presented  by  Swedenborg,  and 
never  did  those  doctrines  fall  upon  ground  better 
suited  for  their  reception  and  development.  Prob- 
ably with  small  thought  concerning  the  momentous 
meaning  of  his  action,  Wilkinson  threw  himself 
at  once  into  a  thorough  and  exhaustive  study  of 
"  the  writings,"  and  was  soon  recognised  as  a  born 
translator.  He  was,  indeed,  from  the  first  more 
than  a  careful  Tenderer  of  his  original  from  one 
language  to  another.  We  have  seen  in  the  preced- 
ing chapter  how  early  in  his  task  he  was  struggling 
for  a  mastery  of  those  nuances  of  expression  which 
raise  the  drudge  into  the  artist,  and  open  out  the 
genius  of  an  author  to  the  mind  of  those  who  see 
him  in  his  new  dress.  As  in  the  case  with  most 
conscientious  work,  the  effort  brought  more  than 
a  creditable  fulfilment  of  the  immediate  task  in 
hand.  Not  only  did  Wilkinson  gain  an  intimacy 

152 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  153 

with  the  ipsisima  verba  of  Swedenborg,  probably 
peculiar  to  himself  in  his  own  generation  ;  he  acquired 
in  addition  to  this  a  readiness  of  expression,  a  facility 
and  virility  of  literary  workmanship,  which  could 
not  have  failed,  if  used  upon  themes  less  unpopular 
than  those  he  followed,  to  redound  to  his  fame  and 
profit.  But  these  were  not  what  he  sought. 

A  vision  of  the  reality  and  nearness  of  spiritual 
life  through  the  exegesis  of  Swedenborg,  was  for  him 
a  call  to  his  life-work.  What  he  himself  saw  must 
be  rendered  visible  to  all  men  to  the  best  of  his 
power.  Having  graduated  through  translation 
into  learning,  he  found  himself  possessed  of  gifts 
which  made  his  pen  a  valuable  weapon.  Armed 
with  it,  he  threw  himself  into  a  life  of  use,  and 
became  the  most  versatile  and  original  of  Sweden- 
borg's  disciples.  His  enthusiasm  of  spirit  and  power 
of  mind,  were,  indeed,  so  fitted  to  the  task  of  his 
self-devotion  that  to  some  he  appeared  more  in  the 
position  of  a  reincarnation  than  a  follower  of  his 
master.  Swedenborg,  buried  in  manuscript  under 
the  dust  of  a  century's  neglect,  seemed,  to  some  at 
least,  to  speak  again.  As  Mr  Emerson  said l  : — 
"  This  startling  re-appearance  of  Swedenborg,  after 
a  hundred  years,  in  his  pupil,  is  not  the  least 
remarkable  fact  in  his  history." 

A  large  shelf  full  of  books  are  a  public  testimony 
to  the  zeal  with  which  Wilkinson  utilized  his  talent 

1  Representative  men  :  "  Swedenborg,  or  the  Mystic." 


154     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

in  promulgating  the  truth  as  he  saw  and  held  it. 
For  him,  the  writings  of  Swedenborg  enshrined 
the  latest  word  of  revelation  vouchsafed  to  man. 
As  he  traced  the  word  of  God  in  the  Sagas  and  in 
the  hieroglyphic  writings  of  ancient  Egypt  in  the 
past,  so,  too,  he  confidently  expected  further  revela- 
tion which  should  supersede  the  message  of  Sweden- 
borg, in  its  turn,  in  that  future  when  man  was 
educated  to  receive  it.  For  the  present,  however, 
he  must  labour  to  have  that  message  heard  and 
heeded.  The  works  in  which  he  sought  that  end 
have  been  enumerated  and  characterized  in  the 
foregoing  chapter.  A  full  critical  appreciation  of 
their  scope  and  execution  would  here  be  out  of 
place  :  it  will  be  enough  to  say  that  they  naturally 
classify  themselves  as  textual,  explanatory  and 
developmental.  The  textual  works,  consisting 
of  translations  and  editions  of  Swedenborg's  writings, 
are  the  hand-books  and  classics  of  the  New  Church 
at  the  present  day,  and  are  little  likely  to  be  super- 
seded while  the  English  language  lasts.  Within 
the  explanatory  and  developmental  classes  fall 
Wilkinson's  Introductions  to  the  several  works  which 
he  translated  and  edited,  and  also  the  vast  amount 
of  brilliant  illustration  which  he  bestowed  upon 
the  far-reaching  doctrine  of  Correspondences,  in 
which  he  traced  examples  of  mystical  correspondence 
in  the  early  writings  of  the  race  and  in  the  occurrences 
of  his  own  day. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  155 

But  the  effect  of  religion  can  only  be  partially 
estimated  by  a  consideration  of  a  man's  published 
works.  Its  influence  upon  conduct  and  upon 
character  are  fully  seen  and  known  only  to  the 
Maker  of  man.  Upon  this  subject  it  must  suffice 
to  say  that  in  his  personal  life,  Wilkinson  consistently 
regulated  his  conduct  by  the  lofty  creed  which  he 
professed,  and  that,  having  served  his  generation 
faithfully  and  unremittingly,  he  fell  on  sleep. 

Those  who  need  an  exposition  of  Swedenborg's 
doctrines  or  an  estimate  of  his  value  among  the 
religious  teachers  of  the  world  will  find  them  else- 
where, and  not  least  satisfactorily  in  the  works 
of  Wilkinson.  We  are  here  rather  concerned  to 
define  the  place  of  Wilkinson  among  his  disciples, 
and  to  give,  so  far  as  may  be  in  his  own  words,  his 
views  upon  the  subject  to  which  he  devoted  his 
life  and  by  which  he  regulated  his  conduct. 

The  most  important  question  which  can  be  pro- 
pounded to  a  Christain  is  that  which  Christ  asked 
his  immediate  followers :  '  Whom  say  ye  that 
I  am  ?  "  The  answer  in  Wilkinson's  case  is  very 
distinct.1  "  The  Doctrine  of  the  Divine  Humanity 
is  clearly  the  highest  doctrine  of  Heaven.  The 
glorification  of  that  Humanity  is  by  analogy  the 
rule  of  all  progress,  of  all  movement  toward  goodness. 
There  is  not  a  single  sphere  of  knowledge  but  is  hollow 
and  unsubstantial  if  the  recognition  of  that  doctrine 

1  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  James,  December  2,  1846. 


156    JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

is  not  in  it.  It  reconciles  the  Idealist  to  nature 
and  the  Materialist  to  God.  In  a  word,  it  gives 
poor  humanity  a  new  and  everlasting  root  in  a  fresh 
covenant ;  and  is  emphatically  Religion.  It  is 
a  doctrine  which  I  hope  my  dear  friend  will  spend 
and  be  spent  for.  The  commonest  knowledge  and 
the  merest  obeisance  to  duty  best  illustrate  it. 
He  who  makes  no  excursion  into  the  sciences  (using 
the  term  in  its  modern  limited  sense)  may  find  in 
his  own  home  here  a  deeper  insight  into  Creation, 
and  windows  more  pellucid  and  truly  crystalline, 
than  all  the  vagueness  of  self -sought  things  can 
otherwise  afford  him.  In  a  word,  if  you  be  so 
minded,  there  is  no  need  to  study  anything  less 
than  humanity  for  the  confirmation  of  the  Divine 
Humanity ;  least  of  all  to  oppress  the  memory 
with  the  broken  pieces  into  which  the  creation 
is  every  day  reduced  by  the  savans" 

Writing  to  the  same  friend,  he  says 1  :  "I  am 
sure  I  am  a  much  more  outside  person  than  you,  and 
with  much  less  faith ;  thus  I  cleave  to  the  historical, 
as  a  Romanist  to  his  dolls ;  and  when  you  talk  of  the 
Christ,  I  feel  pained  at  the  definite  article,  because  it 
makes  Christ  Himself — the  only  one  I  know  of — in- 
definite. .  .  .  I  cannot  make  History  movable  to  please 
anybody ;  and,  as  to  what  has  occurred  I  imagine  its 
fact  value  to  be  inalienable.  .  .  .  The  full  influence 
of  the  letter  is  as  necessary  as  that  of  the  Spirit." 

1  June  1,  1849. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  157 

Our  last  quotation  on  this  vital  point  is  evidently 
in  answer  to  a  letter  which  is  no  longer  extant. 
However  it  shows  Wilkinson's  attitude  toward 
the  doctrine  of  the  Incarnation  so  distinctly  that 
it  must  find  place  here. 

"  *  In  your  letter  to  me,  I  think  you  scientifically 
wrong  in  evaporating  the  personality  of  Christ 
in  order  to  procure  the  universality  of  the  Christ. 
It  is  against  nature,  as  much  as  against  God.  The 
"  old  superstitious  standpoint "  is  indeed  the  only 
one ;  the  philosophical  '  mathematical  point '  is 
no  substitute  for  it.  Life  and  limb,  I  adhere  to 
the  former,  and  find  it  more  and  more  confirmed 
to  me  by  all  my  studies  and  thoughts.  You  seem 
to  think  that  the  human  existence  of  Christ  is  not 
his  Divine  Existence  also ;  and  that  the  six-foot 
measure  of  His  person  plainly  demonstrates  His 
finiteness.  (  I  regard  it  differently,  and  see  in  the 
whole  universe  nothing  but  a  provision  for  giving 
Omnipresence,  Omnipotence  and  Omniscience  to  per- 
fections, and  not  to  sizes.  But  I  will  reserve  what  I 
have  to  say  on  this  until  I  have  read  your  book." 

St  John's  avowal,  in  Browning's  "  Death  in  the 
Desert,"  is  not  more  definite  : — 

"  I  say  the  acknowledgment  of  God  in  Christ 
Accepted  by  thy  reason,  solves  for  thee 
All  questions  in  the  earth  and  out  of  it ; 
And  has  so  far  advanced  thee  to  be  wise." 

1  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  James,  March  22,  1850. 


158    JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

The  discussion  between  the  friends  did  not  end 
here.  We  shall  meet  later  with  a  continuation 
of  it  on  Mr  James'  part. 

Holding  these  strong  views  upon  the  Incarnation, 
it  follows  that  Wilkinson  held  his  Bible  as  directly 
and  fully  inspired.  He  held  also  that  much  which 
is  obscure  in  the  Bible  had  been  specially  revealed 
to  Emanuel  Swedenborg,  and  that  the  Word  in  its 
fulness  was  not  granted  to  those  who  did  not  avail 
themselves  of  this  help.  The  relation  in  which  he 
viewed  his  Bible  and  "  the  writings  "  is  compendi- 
ously stated  in  the  following  letter * : — 

"  I  am  weak  and  unable  to  complete  a  little  work 
I  have  on  hand,  so  within  the  last  fortnight  I  have 
read  through  Swedenborg  "  De  Coelo  et  Inferno,"  in 
the  original.  I  regard  it  as  the  Law-Revealing 
Sinai  of  the  Lord's  Second  Advent.  I  do  not  regard 
Swedenborg' s  works  as  subsidiary  to  the  Word, 
but  as  capable  of  being  absorbed  into  it :  so  that 
the  internal  Word  will  be  all  in  all ;  those  Works 
from  without  and  from  within  subsisting  to  declare 
it." 

"  This  is  not  the  place,"  he  says  in  1897,1  to  do 
more  than  affirm  that  the  Lord  has  opened  the  Word 
to  Emanuel  Swedenborg  by  the  revelation  to  him 
of  the  internal  sense  within  the  letter  which  con- 
sists of  correspondences."  Further  statements  of 

1  Letter  to  Mr  John  Thomson,  February  I,  1306. 

2  Preface  to  ' '  Voluspa/'  p.  ix. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  159 

Wilkinson's  views  as  to  the  relation  which  of 
Swedenborg's  works  bear  to  the  Bible,  is  given  us 
in  another  letter  to  the  same  friend.1 

"  There  is,  indeed,  more  in  the  Psalms  than 
Swedenborg  saw,  and  than  any  man  but  God-man, 
the  speaker  of  them,  will  ever  see.  But  Swedenborg 
alone  has  been  commissioned  to  open  the  Psalms, 
by  being  ordered  by  God-man  to  reveal  the  whole 
doctrine  of  the  Incarnation.  That  is  what  makes 
Jesus  Christ  alone  the  opener  of  the  Psalms.  They 
treat  primarily  of  the  whole  state  of  Jesus,  born  a 
natural  man  of  Mary,  born  a  Divine-Natural  man 
from  God  from  Heaven,  conquering  universal  Hell, 
as  man  must  conquer  his  own  particular  self -hell ; 
and  His  (Jesus')  conquest  in  fight  against  temptations, 
enabling  Man  again  to  have  free-will ;  Jesus  creating 
the  Divine-Natural  Degrees  in  Himself,  and  there- 
with becoming  one  with  the  Divine-Spiritual 
and  celestial  Degrees,  and  thus  one  with  the 
Father. 

"  The  Psalms  recount  all  the  horrors  and  terrible 
states  which  Jesus'  living  with  hell  testifies.  How 
do  we  know  this  ?  By  the  last  chapter  of  Luke, 
in  which  Jesus,  on  the  way  to  Emmaus  made  it 
known  to  mankind,  '  These  are  the  words  which  I 
spake  unto  you  while  I  was  yet  with  you,  how  that 
all  things  must  be  fulfilled  which  are  written  in  the 
law  of  Moses  and  the  Prophets  and  the  Psalms 

1  Letter  to  Mr  John  Thomson,  March  14,  1899. 


160     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

concerning  me.'     None  of  this  has  come  home  to 
Jesus  until  Swedenborg  doctrinally  opened  it." 

The  opinions  which  Wilkinson  held  upon  the 
"  infallibility  "  or  degree  of  inspiration  granted  to 
Swedenborg  in  his  various  writings  is  very  carefully 
stated  in  the  following  long  letter  written  in  answer  to 
an  inquiry  on  the  subject  from  a  friend  in  America1 : — 

"  I  appreciate  your  difficulties  about  the  c  in- 
fallibility '  of  the  writings  of  Swedenborg ;  I  mean 
about  the  claim  of  it  for  the  theological  writings. 
For  myself  I  dismiss  the  word,  infallibility,  into 
the  sphere  of  Papacy.  Swedenborg  never  said  he 
was  infallible.  What  he  implied  was  that  he  was 
over-ruled  by  the  Lord — his  own  will  evidently 
capable  of  the  obedience  necessary  to  write  the 
internal  sense  of  the  Word,  as  it  could  be  received  by 
Mankind.  No  angel  helped  him;  on  the  contrary, 
the  Angels  often  told  him  what  poor  matter  he  was 
writing  from  their  standpoint ;  and  he,  guided  by 
the  Lord,  replied,  that  it  was  up  to  the  level  of  the 
intelligence  of  the  receptive  world  in  his  day.  This 
debasing  of  the  coin  of  internal  truth,  by  amalgamat- 
ing it  with  the  copper  of  the  natural  man,  and  so 
making  it  hard  and  substantial  to  us,  though  the 
gold  of  heaven  was  interfered  with,  hardly  comes 
under  the  word,  infallibility.  The  use  of  the 
amalgamating  process  is  produced  by  an  infallible 
Valuer,  but  the  process  itself  is  accommodation ; 

1  Letter  to  iMrs  Cockerell,  May  5,  1890. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  161 

and  the  coining  MOIL  will  see  more  and  more  than 
Swedenborg  was  commissioned  to  reveal ;  so  that 
whoso  believes  in  the  finality  of  any  statement 
of  the  internal  sense,  will  limit  the  ever  advancing 
glory  of  the  Word.  Nevertheless,  every  stage  is 
the  Word  of  God,  and  is  the  internal  sense  of  the 
Word  of  God  to  us ;  and  we  cannot  be  deceived  in 
regarding  it  as  such. 

"  The  Word  of  God  is  a  various  revelation.  It 
is  God  Himself,  He  tells  us,  in  the  beginning.  No 
man  sees  or  knows  it  save  as  the  daylight  of  the 
divine  Sun  above  the  heavens.  In  the  heavens 
it  is  the  Lord  in  and  with  the  angels  ;  but  as  Himself 
in  a  definite  divine  revelation,  as  a  Book  also.  On 
Earth  it  is  a  written  perpetuated  Book  possessed 
by  man.  All  through,  therefore,  the  Word  has 
two  characters ;  God's  being  and  property  in  it ; 
and  the  loan  of  it  to  man.  This  seems  to  connect 
itself  with  the  question  How  a  divine  commentary 
on  the  Word,  like  the  authoritative  explication 
vouchsafed  to  and  through  Swedenborg,  is  to  be  taken 
as  itself  the  Word,  and  co-real  with  the  Word  ? 
If  in  any  age  it  is  all  that  man  can  know  of  the  Word, 
such  Voice  of  God  is  the  Word  to  men,  external  or 
literal,  internal  or  spiritual ;  and  doctrinal. 

"  The  Word  as  God  is  thus  separated  from  the 
imparted  Word  as  suited  by  divine  mercy,  and 
therefore  as  still  infinite,  to  the  state  of  the  heavens 
and  the  churches.  All  authoritative  expositions 


162     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

of  the  Word,  are,  as  Uses,  co-real  with  the  Word 
for  our  regeneration :  they  are  divinely  true  and 
good.  No  exposition,  however,  is  co-real  with 
the  declaration,  '  In  the  beginning  was  the  Word, 
and  the  Word  was  with  God,  and  the  Word  was 
God.' 

"  As  to  our  attitude  of  acceptance  of  Swedenborg's 
infallibility,  he  himself  is  dead  against  it  for  the  men 
of  heaven  and  the  men  of  earth.  In  heaven  he  saw 
a  temple  on  which  was  written  '  Now  it  is  granted 
to  enter  intellectually  into  the  mysteries  of  faith.' 
For  us  on  earth  he  has  said,  '  Consider  what  I  say 
with  reason,  and  with  reason  accept  it.'  These 
declarations  (which  I  put  in  my  own  words)  are 
incompatible  with  receiving  this  author's  works 
with  blind  faith.  Though  it  must  be  added  that 
the  affirmation  or  faith  of  love  for  what  is  good  and 
true  is  the  way,  truth  and  life  of  the  needful  under- 
standing of  the  writings  of  the  New  Jerusalem. 
To  an  Atheist  neither  of  the  above  permissions 
or  recommendations  applies.  To  him  there  are  no 
mysteries  of  faith,  and  no  reception  of  any  spiritual 
instruction  into  the  breast  of  reason.  He  is  an 
infallible  selfhood. 

"  Now,  banishing  infallibility  as  a  dangerous 
apoplexy  of  the  active  mind,  we  come  to  Swedenborg's 
theological  writings,  and  to  their  claims.  For 
myself  I  regard  those  which  he  published  as  divine 
books.  '  The  Arcana,'  the  6  Four  Leading  Doctrines,' 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  163 

the  *  Heaven  and  Hell,'  '  Conjugal  Love,'  '  Last 
Judgment,'  '  Apocalypse  Revealed,'  and  the  rest. 
For  me  they  are  temples  of  the  Holy  Spirit.  Also 
4  The  Divine  Love  and  Wisdom '  and  Divine  Pro- 
vidence of  course.  There  are  errors  of  information 
on  natural  subjects  in  them,  because  they  were 
written  in  the  eighteenth  century.  These  are  of 
no  consequence  to  a  lover  of  truth  divine.  But 
they  have  the  use  of  showing  infallibility  the  door 
— politely. 

"  With  regard  to  all  these  works,  if  you  receive  in 
faith  and  love  as  much  as  commends  itself  to  your 
urgent  uses  for  the  bread  of  life,  you  do  quite  enough 
to  be  in  the  great  supper,  without  stumbling  over 
those  things  which  do  not  commend  themselves 
to  you. 

"As  to  the  large  unpublished  works,  all  readers  of 
them  and  of  the  '  Diary '  know  how  greatly  luminous 
and  instructive  they  are.  You  are  absolutely  at 
liberty  to  receive  all  the  nourishment  you  can  from 
them.  There  will  be  innumerable  differences  of 
reception  among  the  readers  of  these  also.  Liberty 
and  Rationality  will  prefer  different  qualities  and 
quantities  in  the  feast  of  reason  and  the  flow  of  soul. 
Among  them  I  regard  the  '  Coronis,' '  The  Athanasian 
Creed,'  '  The  Divine  Love  and  Wisdom '  from 
4  Apocalypse  Explained,'  and  the  '  Diarium '  and 
'  Apocalypse  Explained '  itself,  as  signal  stores  for 
the  nourishment  and  delight  of  coming  JSons. 


164     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

"  Swedenborg's  Life  for  the  Use  that  he  was  to 
fulfil  has  now  to  be  taken  into  account.  He  rose 
from  Childhood  to  Manhood,  and  through  Old  Age, 
as  a  prepared  instrument ;  ever  mounting  the  divine 
stairs  of  Jacob's  Ladder ;  and  registered  a  new 
sight  from  the  higher  light  given  through  the  foot- 
steps of  an  adequate  life.  The  next  ages  will  see, 
with  new  rays  of  truth-perception,  that  in  the 
long  series  of  pre-theological  works  from  small  to 
large,  he  was  guided  and  further  prepared  for  the 
stages  to  come.  A  perpetual  engrafting  of  next 
and  next  faculties  was  accomplished  on  him  by  the 
Great  Gardener.  No  infallibility  here  either;  but 
a  constant  reception  of  principles  and  depths,  and 
rejection  of  old  ways  and  appearances.  So  each 
work  was,  as  it  were,  a  generation  in  itself,  and  had 
to  die  in  its  methodic  body,  that  the  proximate 
spiritual  might  come  forth,  and  continue  the  ascent. 
If  the  so-called  scientific  works  are  seen  with  an  open 
mind,  they  are  spiritual  powers  and  exercises  and 
far  off  cognitions  of  theology  and  of  the  Divine  Word. 
This  is  the  case  with  Swedenborg's  '  Principles  of 
Chemistry,'  in  which  he  has  laid  the  foundation- 
stone  of  a  godly  mineral  temple,  transparent  from 
top  to  bottom,  which  cannot  even  be  dreamt  of  by 
the  modern  commercial  medical  and  culinary  chemist. 
Higher  still  he  mounts  in  his  '  Principia.'  His  work, 
(posthumous)  on  '  Generation '  is  ground  so  new, 
but  closely  following  anatomy,  physiology  and 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  165 

living  and  loving  Sex,  that  it  must  be  an  age  before 
any  number  of  readers  will  want  its  instructions. 
Like  all  the  series,  it  is  out  of  the  mind  and  heart 
and  interests  of  the  end  of  the  Nineteenth  Century. 
It  tells  the  World,  as  it  has  never  been  told  before, 
that  we,  who  object  to  Divine  Revelation,  live  in 
an  era  of  mere  imagination,  and  in  a  feminine  age. 
With  respect  to  this  saying  let  it  be  observed  that 
no  derogation  of  woman  is  implied  here ;  but  the 
author  means  that  one  half  of  the  soul  is  predominant, 
where  on  the  other  hand  the  masculine  and  feminine 
forces  should  be  in  even  ratios,  balanced  and  be- 
getting in  the  strength  of  the  heavenly  conjugment. 

"  Coming  to  the  '  Economy  '  and  the  '  Animal 
Kingdom,'  the  veil  of  nature  grows  thinner  chapter 
by  chapter,  and  the  correspondence  of  the  organs 
of  the  body  to  the  faculties  and  uses  of  the  Mind 
and  Spirit  lightens  forth  in  inductions  and  deduc- 
tions and  make  organization  transparent ;  and 
instead  of  the  skeleton  being  seen  as  in  Rontgen's 
Rays,  the  spiritual  body  is  visible  in  the  shape  in 
which  good  and  evil  will  present  it  after  death. 
All  these  are  therefore  preparatory  and  preliminary 
treatises  on  Heaven  and  Hell.  To  single  one  piece 
of  their  daylight,  we  would  mention  the  Doctrine 
of  Respiration,  the  Life  and  Union  of  the  Body  and 
the  Spirit,  and  the  bodily  fulcrum  and  basis  of  the 
emancipation  of  the  intellect  as  an  instrument  of 
regeneration.  Space  permits  no  mention  of  Sweden- 


166     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

borg's  great  discoveries  in  the  region  of  the  Brain. 
They  are  the  culmination  of  his  natural  spiritual 
philosophy  of  the  human  body. 

"  Such  a  series  and  order  as  we  have  sketched, 
puts  infallibility  out  of  Court.  Papacy  is  a  Mummy 
in  the  swathings  of  its  infallibility,  and  though  the 
wrappages  are  many,  and  the  invention  curious, 
yet  the  sameness  of  death  and  immobility  is  written 
upon  the  throne  on  which  the  Papal  Corpse  sits. 
In  the  New  Church  writings,  issuing  as  they  do 
from  the  living  God,  '  behold  I  make  all  things  new,' 
is  the  eternal  protest  against  the  invasion  and  fixity 
of  time  and  space  into  the  Courts  of  the  infinite. 
A  new  heaven  and  a  new  earth  are  our  prophecy. 

'  We  come  last  to  say  a  word  on  your  difficulty 
with  regard  to  the  "  Worship  and  Love  of  God  " ; 
a  work  intermediate  between  Swedenborg's  natural- 
spiritual  books,  and  the  theological  writings.  You 
would  ask,  Is  the  account  of  Man's  first  Creation 
true  ?  Can  it  be  relied  on  ?  Crucified  by  Infalli- 
bility, by  infallible  modern  medical  scientism,  it 
can  only  yield  up  the  ghost.  But  in  and  after  so 
doing,  it  must  be  seen  as  not  only  natural,  but,  like 
our  Lord's  body,  as  a  first  state  of  divine  natural. 
Swedenborg  would  never  affirm  his  beautiful  thought, 
of  the  Two  Trees  of  Life,  to  be  a  literal  fact.  It  is 
part  of  a  great  Mythology  which  all  his  previous 
works  constitute.  It  belongs  to  Ark  and  Emblem, 
to  Yggdrasil,  to  the  trees  of  Life  in  the  Word,  in 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  167 

Genesis  and  Revelation ;  and  received  as  life-giving 
by  the  spiritual  intellect,  the  Non-sense  of  it  is  the 
pure  mind  and  reason  working  out  the  problems  of 
science  with  a  power  given  from  above.  Age  by 
age  the  sense,  quite  novel,  and  quite  unselfish  and 
unsensual,  will  come,  when  the  divine  series  in  the 
Work  is  admitted  and  its  place  in  all  the  Works  from 
the  '  Principles  of  Chemistry '  to  '  The  Arcana,'  is 
taken  into  the  account.  The  Lord's  manifestation  to 
Swedenborg  in  East  London  was  very  nigh  at  hand 
to  him  when  he  wrote  this  nonsensual  Drama  and 
Oratorio. 

"  It  occurs  to  me  to  supplement  this,  which  I 
may  perhaps  print  in  Morning  Light,  with  the 
suggestion,  that  God,  well  called  by  Paul  the  *  Father 
of  Lights,'  from  the  beginning  has  not  helped 
Mankind  directly  by  imparting  to  him  any  natural 
Sciences.  It  may  be  a  rule  that  He  reveals  to  us 
nothing  that  we  can  find  out  for  ourselves.  The 
celestial  wisdom  of  the  Adamic  Church  is  no  infringe- 
ment of  this  order.  Its  so-called  science,  summed 
up  in  the  knowledge  of  correspondences,  was  of  heavenly, 
not  of  natural  things  :  and  even  in  primeval  Egypt 
the  knowledges  were  such  as  could  only  be  attained 
by  Revelation ;  for  they  were  the  absolute  spiritual 
fitnesses  of  the  external  worship  of  the  Church  to 
the  holy  states  of  the  Ancient  Men,  to  God  in  them. 
In  our  remainders  from  these  revelations,  the  orienta- 
tion of  temples,  and  other  prescripts,  are  not  of 


168     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

natural  science,  but  of  primeval  revelation.  This 
condition,  that  we  are  necessitated  to  discover  all 
natural  scientifics  for  ourselves  is  a  personal  basis  of 
our  freewill ;  for  we  should  soon  lose  our  wholesome 
love  of  discovery  with  its  compensated  toils,  if  our 
second  sight,  and  third  sight,  and  manifold  sights  of 
nature  were  all  shown  to  us  gratuitously.  And  our 
intelligence  would  dwindle  into  animality.  With 
this  condition  of  invention,  sciences  are  for  ever  and 
for  ever  imperfect,  and  as  they  can  become  more 
and  more  perfect  by  our  diligence,  our  understanding 
minds  are  created  by  the  daily  instruction  we  receive 
of  our  own  nothingness.  For  the  end  of  natural 
science  also  is  that  whatever  is  good  and  true  in  it, 
is,  in  spite  of  all  we  have  just  said,  a  direct  gift  of 
the  loving  economy  of  the  Almighty." 

In  addition  to  his  great  reverence  for  the  works 
of  Swedenborg,  Wilkinson  was  possessed  of  an 
affection  almost  personal  for  the  man  who  died  forty 
years  before  he  himself  was  born.  There  was  no 
detail  of  Swedenborg's  life  which  was  too  trivial 
for  careful  investigation :  he  even  collected  and 
published  all  the  available  material  for  a  memoir 
of  Jasper  Svedborg,  Bishop  of  Skara,  the  Seer's 
father. 

"  This  is  a  memorable  day,"  he  wrote  on  January 
26, 1896,  to  his  friend  Dr  Boericke  of  San  Francisco, 
"  the  two  hundred  and  sixth  anniversary  of  the  birth 
of  Emanuel  Swedenborg.  Ten  days  ago,  I  started 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  169 

reading  '  De  Ccelo  et  Inferno '  in  Latin,  my  dear 
Samuel  H.  Worcester's  fine  Edition ;  and  I  finished 
the  perusal  this  morning.  How  much  is  gained  sug- 
gestively from  the  original.  ...  To  read  it  is  to 
know  that  you  will  be  before  the  great  White  Throne. 
It  is  an  '  awfully  good  book.' ' 

He  had  the  courage  of  his  convictions  and  would 
have  no  suppression  of  facts,  or  eclecticism,  where 
Swedenborg  was  concerned.1 

"  I  should  be  grieved  if  any  attempt  to  exclude  the 
dreams  from  your  "  Monumenta  Swedenborgiana " 
were  to  succeed.  They  are  documents  which  cannot 
now  be  suppressed ;  and  the  quietest  way  in  which 
they  can  come  forth  is  in  your  large  Volumes,  where 
they  will  assume  no  disproportionate  importance. 
Failing  that,  they  will  probably  issue  in  a  portable, 
perhaps  in  a  pamphlet  form,  and  have  an  unduly 
wide  circulation.  It  would  be  an  awkward  fact 
for  the  world  to  handle,  if  the  Society  tried  to  sup- 
press the  document. 

i4  Those  who  think  Swedenborg  mad  will  think 
him  no  madder  for  '  The  Dreams ' :  those  who  are 
capable  of  finding  him  not  mad  will  speedily  see  in 
'The  Dreams'  a  step  in  the  marvellous  ladder  of 
his  upraising. 

"  I  remember  well  when  I  warmly  and  earnestly 
advocated  the  publication  of  the  'Diarium',  with 
nearly  the  whole  Society  against  me,  many  earnest 

1  Letter  to  Dr  Tafel,  July  2, 1877. 


170     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

men  were  terrified,  and  one  said,  '  That  book,  if 
published,  will  disband  the  Church.'  The  Lord's 
Church  is  not  to  be  disbanded  by  the  whole  Truth. 
I  pray  you  all,  fear  not ;  this  book,  even  if  it  open 
controversy,  will  be  no  stumbling  block  to  any 
whom  it  really  concerns.  The  Age  is  opening  fast 
to  a  reverent,  careful  and  tolerant  study  of  such 
phenomena  as  those  indicated  in  c  The  Dreams.' 

"  May  I  add,  as  an  old  friend  and  deep  well- 
wisher  to  the  Society,  an  earnest  hope  that  you  will 
be  commissioned  at  once  to  proceed  to  the  European 
part  of  your  work,  the  publication  of  all  the  Docu- 
ments in  the  originals.  We  owe  this  to  the  world 
and  to  posterity.  Make  any  use  you  like  of  this 
letter." 

It  may  be  remembered  that  in  1836,  Wilkinson's 
first  reading  at  the  British  Museum  was  in  a  History 
of  Philosophers  and  that  he  noticed  with  disapproval 
the  absence  of  Swedenborg's  name  from  among 
them.  Sixty  years  later,  we  find  him  delivering 
a  firm  verdict  in  the  same  sense.1 

"  You  ask  me,  who,  in  my  opinion,  is  the  greatest 
Philosopher  of  the  present  time  ?  My  answer  is, 
Emanuel  Swedenborg.  His  writings  recognize  and 
adequately  demonstrate  all  the  faculties  of  man,  and 
see  them  in  their  connexion  from  the  highest  to  the 
lowest  as  the  creations  of  a  Divine  love  and  wisdom. 

"  The  Philosophy  lies  in  the  veritable  Revelation 

1  Utter  to  Mrs  Keeley,  March  21, 1896. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  171 

that  human  love  and  wisdom  exist  in  their  integrity 
only  in  proportion  as  the  rule  of  higher  and  inner 
faculties  becomes  established  in  human  life,  in- 
dividual and  social ;  so  that  the  relation  between 
God  and  man  is  continually  established  and  re- 
established. 

"  The  two  factors  of  this  are  God's  gifts,  both  of 
them,  1.  A  Word  of  God,  inspired  by  Him,  and 
plainly  full  of  His  Commandments  and  Laws. 
2.  A  conscience  sensitive  to  the  Light  of  this 
Word.  Obedience  is  the  Use  of  this  conscience 
in  daily  Duties. 

"  These  dry  statements  cover  and  include  a  divine 
Philosophy  which  has  new  eyes  given  to  it  for  the 
discernment  of  all  things  hitherto  deemed  mysterious. 
They  are  windows  to  which  the  natural  and  spiritual 
worlds  freely  open. 

"  This  philosophy  will  not  pass  away,  but  with 
the  reformation  and  regeneration  of  mankind,  age 
after  age,  it  will  become  more  new  and  glorious, 
never  forgetting  its  past,  yet  living  in  its  present, 
and  not  anticipating  its  future. 

"  The  meaning  of  this  is  a  divine  Church,  the 
religious  and  secular  pulpits  of  which  will  grow 
out  of  the  life  of  Emanuel's  Philosophy." 

The  high  value  which  Wilkinson  attached  to 
Swedenborg's  works  led  him  to  reverse  various 
generally  accepted  judgments.1 

1  Letter  to  Miss  Marsh,  January  28,  1839. 


172     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

"  To  my  mind  the  insertion  of  extracts  from 
Swedenborg  spoils  the  context  of  any  other  man — 
it  so  completely  surpasses  all  other  writing,  in  its 
clear-burning  tranquility  of  brightness." 

He  finds  even  St  Augustine  fail  when  tried  by 
this  measure.1 

"  This  morning  I  have  read  Chapter  VII.  of 
St  Augustine's  Confessions.  He  is  a  sublime  Genius, 
full  of  great  and  true  intuitions,  but  which  are  not 
on  the  rational  plane.  It  is  strange  to  compare  him 
with  the  substantial  lesson  of  Swedenborg,  learnable 
through  him  by  all  the  world." 

His  very  love-letters  teemed  with  allusions  to 
Swedenborg.  This  is  not  wonderful  between  lovers 
who  were  studying  "  The  Writings  "  together,  and 
who  sought  counsel,  warning  and  encouragement 
from  those  pages.2 

"  I  am  very  much  pleased  with  your  view  of 
Swedenborg's  power  of  convincing.  It  is  mild,  but 
how  irresistible,  like  all  mild  things,  or  all  things 
which  have  in  them  Love,  Spiritual  mildness.  How 
do  I  feel  that  all  my  warmth  and  fury  is  not  strength; 
that  it  is  weakness  !  that  if  thou  or  I  wish  to  be 
strong  it  must  be  by  renouncing  the  strength  of 
selfish  passion,  by  commencing  unselfish  action  I  " 

Wilkinson's  letters  contain  very  frequent  avowals 
of  his  religious  belief ;  as  a  propagandist,  he  never 

1  Letter  to  Mrs  Wilkinson,  September  3, 1884. 

2  Letter  to  Miss  Marsh,  November  6, 1838. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  173 

shrank  from  testifying.  Two  examples  of  this 
must  not  be  omitted.  Writing  to  Professor  Victor 
Rydberg  to  acknowledge  a  present  of  the  Swedish 
scholar's  "  Undersokningar  i  Germanisk  Mythologi  " 
in  1890  he  says  : — 

"  I  have  some  idea  of  attempting  a  review  of 
your  Book  on  some  principal  points ;  perhaps  in  a 
little  Book.  The  Northern  Mythology  has  to  me  a 
sacred  character,  and  I  have  long  seen  that '  Voluspa  ' 
is  a  tradition  of  holy  things.  I  am  a  confirmed 
and  ever  more  confirmed  disciple  of  Swedenborg, 
who  stands  for  me  in  the  brain  behind  *  Heim- 
skringlas  Panna '  as  the  spirit  of  the  North  coming 
over  the  whole  World ;  and  as  even  more  than 
the  reunion  of  the  two  ends  of  the  Aryan  Race — 
as  the  Uniter  of  all  the  Races  under  the  Divine  Word. 
I  say  this  to  declare  where  I  am  as  your  very  grate- 
ful pupil  and  admirer." 

In  the  last  of  his  letters  to  Mr  Emerson  which 
have  escaped  destruction,  he  is  lamenting  their 
failure  to  meet  in  London,  in  spite  of  many  efforts 
on  both  sides ;  and  giving  his  special  reasons  for 
having  wished  to  meet  his  old  friend  and  helper, 
he  says 1 : — 

"  In  these  last  days  of  the  Supremacy  and  Papacy 
of  the  Human  Mind  as  Emperor,  I  wanted  so  very 
much  to  talk  to  you,  and  assault  you  a  little,  about 
Swedenborg,  for  whose  proximate  extension  you 

1  Letter  to  Mr  R.  W.  Emerson,  January  3, 1874. 


174     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

have  done  so  much.  Years  ago,  when  I  looked  at 
him  as  a  great  phenomenon  mentally,  I  reckoned 
him  among  the  World's  great  men.  Now  I  see  him 
as  not  among  (?  them) :  but  as  a  Divine  Functionary, 
having  in  all  he  does  and  says  a  purely  spiritual 
tendency.  So  I  look  upon  him  as  a  God-given 
pressure  of  common-sense  upon  all  the  relations 
of  public  and  private  life,  which  he  derives  from 
the  Divine  Man,  through  the  Human  Heavens, 
and  Spiritual  World,  into  Humanity  in  all  its  bosoms, 
and  through  every  stroke  of  all  its  businesses.  For 
this,  the  coming  first,  and  then  the  Word  and  Revela- 
tion of  the  Divine  Man  is  necessary ;  and  this  is 
the  thing  which  Swedenborg's  mind  was  opened  at 
the  top  to  teach. 

;c  In  the  light  of  all  this  I  confess  myself  a  Sweden- 
borgian,  a  name  which,  a  quarter  of  a  century  ago, 
I  should  have  repugned. 

"  The  opposite  to  it,  involving,  as  it  does,  blank 
ignorance  of  the  life  after  death  which  we  are  so 
soon  to  enter,  appears  to  me  untenable  against  all 
the  dearest  holiest  interests  of  men  and  women. 

"  I  know  your  generosity  will  excuse  my 
dogmatism." 

Wilkinson's  statement  that  during  the  later 
"  fifties  "  he  would  have  disclaimed  being  a  "  Sweden- 
borgian "  needs  some  qualification  and  brings  us 
naturally  to  consider  his  position  as  a  member  of 
the  "  New  Church." 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  175 

The  difficulty  appears  to  be  one  of  terms.  To  the 
world  at  large  a  "  Swedenborgian  "  is  a  follower  of 
Swedenborg,  a  member  of  a  religious  body  terming 
itself  "  The  New  Church."  Among  those  who 
claimed  membership  in  the  New  Church  were  two 
classes  :  firstly,  those  who  segregated  themselves 
from  other  communities  and  claimed  to  possess, 
as  a  Church,  Orders  and  Sacraments ;  these  may 
not  unjustly  be  called  Sectarians  ;  secondly,  those 
who  claimed  to  extract  an  internal  sense  from  Divine 
Writ  by  means  of  the  revelation  which  they  believed 
to  have  been  granted  to  Swedenborg  and  to  have 
been  transmitted  in  "  The  Writings."  These  latter 
did  not  necessarily  find  their  position  inconsistent 
with  membership  of  other  religious  bodies  or  the 
recognition  of  the  Orders  and  Sacraments  of  those 
bodies.  For  them  the  "  New  Church "  was  a 
spiritual  body  destined  to  grow  in  strength  and 
purity  by  reformation  and  education  due  to  influx 
from  on  high. 

It  cannot  be  denied  that  Wilkinson  early  in 
his  life  was  very  ready  to  become,  if  he  did 
not  actually  become,  a  member  of  the  first  class 
which  we  have  defined.  He  was  anxious  for 
example,  to  be  married  in  a  "  New  Church " 
place  of  worship  and  abandoned  his  intention 
partly  on  account  of  the  inconvenience  involved 
and  partly  to  avoid  giving  pain  to  those  dear  to 
him. 


176     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

But  shortly  before  that  time  we  find  him  writing 
to  his  fiancee  in  these  terms.1 

"  What  you  say  about  the  Sacrament  is  very 
interesting  to  me ;  and  you  shall,  according  to  your 
expressed  wish,  read  me  what  you  have  been  reading 
and  what  Swedcnborg  says  on  that  subject.  I  am 
beginning  to  feel  regrets  of  a  stronger  and  stronger 
kind  that  I  attend  so  little  to  the  forms  of  Religion 
and  the  Church.  These  regrets,  I  think,  will  embody 
themselves  some  day  in  the  practice  of  frequenting 
Divine  Service  and  partaking  of  the  Holy  Sacrament. 
But  at  present,  from  my  neglect  of  these  offices 
during  my  whole  life  (save  only  my  school-life,  when 
they  were  compulsory  and  far  too  hardly  required), 
I  feel  an  inability  to  set  myself  about  performing 
them."  If,  as  seems  likely,  the  Sacrament  of  the 
Eucharist  according  to  the  rites  of  the  Church  of 
England  is  intended,  Wilkinson's  sectarianism  was 
not,  even  at  its  bitterest,  very  bitter.  Seven  years 
later,  however,  with  greater  experience  of  the  two 
classes  of  the  "  New  Church,"  he  expresses  himself 
with  no  uncertain  sound.2 

"  So  Miss  is  in  hot  water !  We  do  not 

wonder  at  it,  and  it  seems  to  be  a  warning  to  us  all 
not  at  present  to  interlock  ourselves  very  closely 
with  any  sect  or  party,  and  perhaps  not  to  leave 
that  in  which  we  were  born.  I  am  tempted  to  think 

1  To  E.  A.  M.,  June  17, 1839. 

2  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  James,  September  18,  1847. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  177 

that  the  times  are  not  free  enough  to  allow  men  to 
associate  together  on  mere  doctrinal  ground,  but 
that  if  they  do  this  they  will  coagulate  together,  or 
conglutinate,  and  lose  the  liberty  of  action  and  of 
thought.  This  has  been  my  own  experience,  and 
I  am  now,  therefore,  anxious  to  belong  to  no  party 
as  a  Community  but  the  Church  of  England,  and, 
by  my  presence  there,  to  contribute  an  individual 
mite  toward  making  that  name  latitudinarian  enough 
for  the  millions  of  diverse  spirits  who  are  compre- 
hended under  it  already.  The  same  advice  I  tender 
to  others,  to  be  what  their  fathers  were  before  them, 
and  to  labour  to  improve  their  ancestral  estate. 
Then,  when  the  better  day  dawns,  the  spiritual 
earth  will  be  fat  and  fit  for  the  crop  which  is  that 
day  to  be  sown  in  it,  over  all  climates.  But  on  this 
subject,  see  the  24th  Chapter  of  Matthew,  from 
the  14th  to  the  28th  verse." 

This  aversion  to  joining  the  "  sect  or  party " 
calling  themselves  "  The  New  Church  "  was  highly 
characteristic  of  him.  In  every  movement  he 
wielded  a  free  lance :  his  transcendentalism  (of 
the  New  England  type)  made  him  an  individualist. 
Never  hesitating  to  raise  voice  or  use  pen  in  the 
most  unpopular  causes,  heedless  of  what  obloquy, 
contumely  and  controversy  he  might  himself  arouse, 
he  yet  possessed  a  caution  which  saved  him  from 
responsibility  for  what  others  might  say,  write  or  do. 

But   if   the    preceding    quotation   illustrates    his 


178     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

attitude  towards  the  "  New  Church  "  with  which 
he  could  not  ally  himself,  that  which  follows  relates 
to  the  New  Church,  the  Heavenly  Jerusalem  whose 
descent  from  above  was  his  dream  and  great  desire.1 
"  I  cannot  doubt  that  at  this  day  the  New  Church 
embraces  all  that  is  good  and  true  in  all  men,  creeds 
and  worships  ;  and  that  so  far  as  any  man  is  on  the 
road  to  heaven,  so  far  he  is  in  the  New  Church,  and 
not  in  the  Old.  This  certainty  gives  one  a  different 
aim  from  the  simple  conversion  of  congregations 
from  one  name  to  another  ;  and  might  tend  to  make 
one  regard  all  existing  things  as  forms  which  might 
be  regenerated  into  truths  without  being  wrenched 
from  their  individual  places.  How  much  richer  a 
Church  will  be  which  embraces  the  varieties  now 
shadowed  forth  by  the  different  Religions  and  Sects  ; 
than  one  which  tyrannically  imposes  itself  upon  all ! 
In  time  and  through  the  myriad-fold  arm  of  circum- 
stances wielded  by  Providence,  the  fundamental 
truth  of  the  Divine  Humanity  and  newness  of  Life, 
will  no  doubt  be  accepted  by  all  Creeds,  and  will 
re-animate  the  Creeds,  which  will  then  simply 
convey  the  Divine  Truths  downwards  in  so  many 
channels  fitted  to  the  great  and  small  divisions  of 
the  Human  Race.  And  the  enlarging  charity  which 
shall  then  appear,  will  interpret  for  good,  and  adopt 
as  of  the  New  Church,  many  a  doctrine  which  is 
now  repudiated  merely  from  a  hard  habit  of  judging 

1  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  James,  February  28,  1847. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  179 

one   set  of  words  by  another  to  which  it  seems 
heterogeneous." 

Wilkinson  maintained  and  even  strengthened  his 
connection  with  the  Church  of  England  through  the 
rest  of  his  life,  attending  its  Services  and  availing 
himself  of  its  highest  act  of  worship.  Probably 
his  readiness  to  proclaim  himself  a  Swedenborgian  in 
1874,  though  he  would  have  repugned  the  title 
earlier  in  his  life,  was  (in  part  at  least)  due  to  a  more 
accurate  view  of  Swedenborgianism  in  the  public 
mind.  His  assumption  of  the  name  certainly  did 
not  connote  a  deeper  Sectarianism.  But  it  must 
not  be  inferred  that  Wilkinson's  attitude  absolved 
him  from  a  very  active  part  in  those  propagandist 
works  of  which  he  approved.  The  facts  are  far 
otherwise.  He  was  for  many  years  from  1839  a 
working  member  of  the  Printing  Committee  of  "  The 
Society  for  Printing  and  Publishing  the  (Theological) 
writings  of  Swedenborg,"  instituted  in  London  1810  ; 
and  in  1844,  he  was  largely  concerned  in  founding 
"  The  Swedenborgian  Association,"  becoming  its 
first  Secretary.  The  special  function  of  this  Associa-  ^ 
tion  was  the  editing  and  translation  of  Swedenborg's 
works  and  manuscripts,  "  written  anteriorly  to  the 
opening  of  his  spiritual  sight  in  the  year  1745."  This 
was  a  matter  very  near  to  Wilkinson's  heart,  for  he 
held  that  his  author  must  be  studied  chronologically 
if  a  man  would  learn  the  degrees  of  development 
through  which  the  scientist  passed  into  the  seer ; 


180     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

and  it  may  be  said  that  he  found  his  life-work  in 
preparing  the  material  for  such  a  study,  in  demon- 
strating and  illustrating  the  theory  of  correspondence, 
and  in  striving  to  widen  the  accepted  view  of  the 
occurrence  and  scope  of  divine  inspiration.  Those 
who  read  the  original  Prospectus  of  the  Sweden- 
borgian  Association  can  scarcely  miss  the  hand  of  its 
Secretary  in  it.  How  much  Wilkinson  expected 
from  the  new  body  appears  in  the  following  letter  * : — 
;'  The  Laws  of  the  latter  (the  Association)  are  just 
completed  and  by  the  next  steamer  I  hope  to  send 
you  a  copy  of  them  ;  when,  if  you  decidedly  approve, 
we  shall  look  to  have  what  support  you  can  fairly 
award  us.  That  much  may  be  done  now,  and  in 
the  way  of  a  New  Method  in  Knowledge,  I,  for  one, 
have  not  the  slightest  doubt.  It  seems  to  me  that 
when  a  state  perishes,  through  a  decadent  process, 
there  is,  at  the  end,  a  reversion  to  the  principles 
of  such  a  state  (a  4  fleeing  to  the  mountains  ')  and 
an  appropriation  of  them  in  the  new  principles  of  a 
new  state.  Besides,  such  principles  are  used  at 
that  time  for  the  purposes  of  justice  and  judgment ; 
they  are  the  marks  from  which  the  departure  dates, 
the  measures  of  its  length,  and  the  judges  of  its 
pretexts.  Now  in  this  way,  as  it  seems  to  me  that 
the  Scientific  state  is  actually  consummated,  must 
we  not  refer  back  to  the  Works  of  the  presumed 
Father  of  Inductive  Science,  viz.,  '  the  great  Lord 

1  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  James,  March  3,  1845. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  181 

Bacon,'  and  see  what  can  he  got  out  of  him  for  our 
purposes  ;  in  what  light  his  genius  will  acknowledge 
his  modern  children,  and  a  few  such  points  ?  I 
propose  therefore  studying  his  Works  with  a  view  to 
this  scheme  of  proceeding,  and  endeavouring  to 
measure  the  moderns  by  him  and  him  by  Swedenborg. 
Probably  I  can  achieve  no  more  than  a  few  sugges- 
tions put  boldly  forward,  which,  however,  would  be 
enough  to  excite  thought  and  to  jog  people  out  of 
some  of  their  ruts.  It  is  manifest  that  we  want  a 
Novum  Organon  Scientiarum,  and  I  have  an  increasing 
confidence  that  the  germs  which  will  evolve  it  are 
all  contained  in  Swedenborg's  Theological  Writings, 
and  this  in  the  very  simplest,  or  highest,  form." 

Wilkinson's  use  of  terms  was  not  unfrequently 
arbitrary ;  it  appears  that  here  he  anticipates  that  the 
Association  was  to  fulfil  some  age  of  Science  by  its 
publications.  The  result  does  not  appear  to  have 
followed,  for  Bacon  was  not  brought  in  as  judge. 
Swedenborg's  earlier  writings  show  him  fully  abreast 
of  Science  so  far  as  it  existed  in  his  day,  and  his 
speculative  vigour  is  beyond  question.  His  follower 
was  inclined  to  regard  him  as  prophetic  in  this  regard 
also,  and  to  read  into  Science  some  internal  meaning 
from  Swedenborg.  Certainly  a  "  clearing  house " 
of  the  sciences,  an  assistance  in  the  correlation  of 
scientific  discovery,  is  a  desideratum  recognized 
more  generally  than  it  was  sixty  years  ago,  but  still 
far  from  attainment. 


182     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

But  it  must  be  confessed  that  there  are  occasions 
upon  which  it  is  difficult  to  "  localize  "  Wilkinson 
accurately.  Such  an  occasion  is  seized  upon  by 
Mr  Henry  James  in  the  letter  from  which  the  follow- 
ing extract  is  taken.  The  letter  illustrates  the  true 
friendship  between  the  two  men,  the  faithfulness 
and  outspoken  criticism  of  the  writer,  the  implied 
tolerance  of  that  criticism  on  the  part  of  the  receiver. 
Mr  James  is  acknowledging  a  copy  of  "  The  Human 
Body  in  its  Connexion  with  Man,"  a  book  which 
Wilkinson  had  dedicated  to  him.1 

"  I  have  read  the  great  book,  you  may  be  sure 
with  eyes  enormously  expanded,  and  mouth  in 
sympathy.  Such  a  tremendous  volley  of  strength 
and  brilliancy  lifting  my  name  into  the  astonished 
air !  The  reaction  was  instantaneous.  I  said  to 
my  wife,  '  This  is  sport  to  Wilkinson,  no  doubt ; 
for  great  men  like  to  show  their  magnanimity  by 
condescension  to  small  ones  ;  but  it  is  death  to  me. 
I  shall  buy  a  small  place  in  some  sheltered  nook 
of  the  Hudson  River,  and  never  let  my  unworthy 
head  be  seen  in  the  city.  Such  an  honour  put  upon 
one  binds  him  to  keep  the  peace  evermore.  Farewell 
henceforth  all  my  intellectual  activities,  all  my 
lectures,  newspaper  squibs  and  all ! '  But  the 
tumult  is  now  subsiding,  and  I  am  able  to  read  the 
post-dedicatory  portion  of  the  volume  with  attention. 

"  All  your  part  of  the  book  is  absolutely  marvellous- 

1  Letter  from  Mr  Henry  James,  September  9, 1851. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  183 

I  find  all  readers  to  agree  in  this.  They  say  that 
you  exhaust  human  power  in  the  direction  of 
rhetoric,  and  that  there  is  no  use  of  looking  for 
fine  writing  after  this.  Your  thought  is  so  organic, 
you  think  so  concretely,  that  one  feels,  when  in 
intellectual  converse  with  you,  as  if  he  were  struggling 
in  the  folds  of  huge  icthyosauri,  or  dancing  a  jig 
with  gleesome  megatheria.  It  would  be  a  monstrous 
compliment  to  the  world  at  large  to  say  that  you 
were  ever  going  to  be  a  popular  writer.  Scholars 
will  rejoice  in  you  as  in  abundance  of  hid  treasure, 
but  only  in  a  better  world  than  this  will  you  become 
known  to  the  multitude.  And  there  seems  a  just 
Providence  in  this.  If  you  were  well  recognized, 
at  your  worth  as  a  writer,  you  would  so  dwarf 
all  our  existing  celebrities  as  to  have  the  whole 
field  of  literature  to  yourself,  and  extinguish  every 
publisher  but  him  who  put  forth  your  book.  You 
will  have,  you  must  have  inevitably,  a  great  fame ; 
but  it  will  be  ratified  only  by  the  very  best  voices  of 
the  race.  I  see  the  book  is  advertised  to  be  re- 
printed by  a  Philadelphia  house,  the  head  of  which, 
Mr  Welford  tells  me,  is  in  London  at  present,  and 
I  presume  therefore  in  communication  with  you. 
The  advertisements  may,  however,  be  merely  a 
•feeler  of  the  public  pulse. 

"  The  matter  of  the  book,  too,  is  glorious,  for  the 
most  part.  The  whole  truth  of  it,  as  exhibiting  the 
loving  co-partners  of  spirit  and  matter,  is  beyond 


184     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

price,  and  the  suggestiveness  of  every  page  accord- 
ingly is  unequalled  in  my  experience.  But  I  confess 
to  some  disappointment  too,  owing  probably  (nay, 
I  am  sure),  to  my  own  dulness.  That  is,  I  do  not 
see  precisely  to  what  practical  end  you  would  make 
all  this  correspondential  lore  avail.  I  know  well 
enough  when  I  read  Swedenborg,  what  the  bearing 
of  all  his  disclosures  in  relation  to  correspondence, 
is.  I  know  that  they  all  tend  to  the  glorification  of 
the  Lord,  or  divine  natural  man.  But  I  do  not 
find  myself  in  as  full  or  flowing  sympathy  with  you. 
Then  again  I  am  additionally  bothered  every  little 
while  with  sinewy  strokes  of  orthodoxy,  which 
would  delight  John  Calvin  :  not  that  good  orthodoxy 
which  seizes  firmly  the  Kernel  of  the  truth  and 
throws  away  the  shell,  but  apparently  a  sort  that 
insists  upon  the  shell  as  equivalent  to  the  kernel. 
I  am  sure,  I  repeat,  that  I  do  not  understand  you, 
and  I  will  wait  therefore  for  subsequent  readings 
to  sharpen  my  wit.  But,  for  the  present,  it  appears 
to  me  from  the  face  of  your  book  either  that  you 
have  some  knowledge  which  you  do  not  impart  to 
other  men  in  relation  to  the  Christ,  or  else  that  you 
differ  toto  ccelo  from  Swedenborg  concerning  Him. 
You  employ  habitually  such  remarkably  Calvinistic 
language  about  the  Christ — and  it  often  seems  so 
consciously  and  wilfully  introduced — that  I  am 
dumbfounded,  and  expect  to  hear  the  bones  of  good 
old  Swedenborg  rattle  with  indignation.  The  mis- 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  185 

chief  of  the  old  Church  Christianity  is,  he  says, 
that  they  conceive  of  the  Lord  only  as  a  Person,  or 
that  they  have  no  conception  of  the  divine  humanity, 
but  from  person,  which  conception  is  fatal  to  the 
spiritual  understanding  of  the  scriptures.  I  fully 
abide  by  this  confession.  Now  you,  as  it  strikes 
me,  delight  in  mystifying  the  simple  disciple  of 
Swedenborg,  and  heaping  all  kinds  of  tacit  contempt 
upon  those  principles  of  biblical  interpretation  which 
guided  him  in  denying  the  divinity  of  the  letter. 
I  have  no  doubt,  all  the  while,  that  you  have  a  certain 
justification  in  your  own  knowledge  ;  but,  having  it, 
hang  it,  why  don't  you  let  common  people  know 
what  it  is  ?  I  am  unfeignedly  mystified  by  every 
word  you  utter  on  the  subject  of  Christianity.  And 
yet  your  utterances  are  so  extremely  pronounced, 
.and  portentous  of  concealed  will,  that  I  dare  not 
treat  them  as  I  would  those  of  a  feeble  man,  and 
dismiss  them  from  all  regard.  I  want  to  know  your 
philosophic  standpoint,  the  source  whence  you 
derive  such  unprecedented  and  (an  illegible  word) 
theologic  aplomb.  For  heaven's  sake,  therefore, 
tell  me,  or  (better  than  this)  tell  the  public, 
in  some  brief  review  of  a  book  or  what 
not,  how  you  understand  the  science  of  the 
Christ." 

Mr  James  appears  here  to  lay  his  finger  upon  a 
weak  point  in  his  friend's  method  of  work,  upon 
something  akin  to  what  we  have,  in  earlier  pages, 


186     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

characterized  as  "  impatience."  Writing  of  the 
deepest  subjects  from  a  point  of  view  between  that 
of  the  theologian  and  the  philosopher,  it  was  in- 
cumbent upon  Wilkinson,  if  he  would  carry  his 
reader  with  him,  to  establish  his  position  constantly 
by  careful  definition  of  the  terms  which  he  employed. 
"  The  light  dove,  piercing  in  her  easy  flight  the  air, 
and  perceiving  its  resistance,  imagines  that  flight 
would  be  easier  still  in  empty  space.  It  was  thus 
that  Plato  left  the  world  of  sense,  as  opposing  so 
many  hinderances  to  our  understanding.  He  did 
not  perceive  that  he  was  making  no  progress  by 
these  endeavours,  because  he  had  no  resistance  as 
a  fulcrum  on  which  to  rest  or  to  apply  his  powers, 
in  order  to  cause  the  understanding  to  advance.  It 
is  indeed  a  very  common  fate  of  human  reason  first 
of  all  to  finish  its  speculative  edifice  as  soon  as 
possible,  and  then  only  to  inquire  whether  the 
foundation  be  sure."  x  We  may  acquit  Wilkinson 
of  want  of  industry,  as  we  may  acquit  him  of 
want  of  conscience :  but  his  impatience  to  be 
in  the  thick  of  his  work  not  seldom  made  his 
progress  from  ill-defined  premises  to  the  loftiest  con- 
clusions unconvincing  because  logically  unscientific. 
The  reader  shares  the  writer's  joy  in  ampler  ethers 
and  more  divine  airs,  but  fails  to  join  him  there, 
because  the  initial  stages  of  the  climb  took  place  in 
a  fog,  as  though  the  early  steps,  though  sufficient 

1  Kant :  Introduction  to  the  "  Critique  of  Pure  Reason,"  p.  4. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  1ST 

for  the  thinker  and  writer,  were  not  cut  deep 
enough  to  guide  and  support  his  follower,  the 
reader. 

From  time  to  time,  Wilkinson  was  dissatisfied  with 
the  tendencies  taken  on  by  the  movement  in  which 
he  associated,  as  the  earnest  individualist  in  every 
movement  is  sure  to  be.1 

"  We  take  in  the  New  Era  and  are  exceedingly 
diverted  and  edified  by  it.  ...  There  is  in  it  not 
only  faith  but  life,  which  latter  element  the  New 
Church  movement  now  lacks  entirely.  It  is  not 
that  there  is  not  all  the  Truth  in  Swedenborg  that 
we  ever  contended  for,  but  in  his  followers  it  is 
unprogressive  and  destitute  of  hope  and  charity, 
and  therefore  their  state  is  liable  to  be  superseded 
by  any  real  manifestation,  however  low,  which  goes 
to  the  Tables  and  hearts  of  the  people.  I  find,  in 
fact  that  the  old  spirit  of  learning,  its  exclusiveness 
and  cruel  Latinization,  rules  just  now  in  Theologicals 
and  Spirituals ;  for  the  philosophers,  parsons  and 
atheists  will  have  it  that  nothing  low  shall  enter  into 
the  category  of  Revelation,  and  that  Revelation  shall 
not  go  to  the  low ;  whereas  all  the  meaning  of 
Revelation  is  something  told  in  their  own  way  to 
people  who  cannot  understand  things  otherwise. 
Consequently,  Revelation  is  a  perpetual  descent ; 
and,  until  it  has  come  to  the  million,  and  Smith 
Thomson,  Noakes  &  Co.  have  each  a  private  reveal- 

1  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  James,  May  19,  1853. 


188     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

ment  in  addition  to  the  public  Gospel,  the  scope  of 
Revelation  cannot  be  complete." 

There  were,  too,  doctrinal  difficulties,  the  less 
easy  to  be  borne  because  they  existed  between 
friends.  The  letter  in  which  the  following  long 
extract  occurs  was  evidently  an  answer  to  one  in 
which  Mr  James  pointed  out  discrepancies  between 
the  views  of  Wilkinson  and  his  friend  Mr  Augustus 
Tulk,  M.P.,  as  expressed  in  the  work  of  the  latter.1 

"  I  forwarded  your  letter  to  Mr  Tulk  as  soon  as 
it  arrived,  since  which  I  have  seen  him  two  or  three 
times,  and  noticed  his  satisfaction  at  the  corre- 
spondence thus  begun.  You  have  certainly  given 
me  a  hard  thrust  or  two,  in  order  to  rouse  me  to 
show  fight,  but  I  am  too  old  a  bull  in  that  arena  to 
be  provoked  in  this  matter  to  a  c  ferocious  rejoinder.' 
As  for  a  "  leisurely  rejoinder,"  which  you  also  desire 
by  your  lancinating  attack  to  produce,  it  shows  that, 
like  a  Queen  of  Spain,  you  desire  a  prolonged  spectacle 
of  my  agonies.  But  I  cannot  gratify  you  in  this 
either. 

"  My  present  course  of  work  and  study  is  so  alien 
to  the  subject,  that  I  candidly  confess  I  cannot 
bring  my  mind  to  treat  it  in  that  order  which  you 
require.  Furthermore,  to  my  own  conceit  at  least, 
I  have  actually  gone  through  it ;  and  though  I  can 
make  it,  to  a  certain  extent,  a  matter  of  recollection, 
I  cannot  make  it  a  matter  of  thought.  There  is 

1  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  James,  September  2,  1845. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  189 

nothing  in  it  which  excites  me  to  activity,  nothing 
but  is  as  well  comprehended  when  the  intellect  is 
asleep  as  (when  it  is)  awake.  When  I  catch  myself 
in  any  part  of  its  mill-horse  round,  I  say  to  myself, 
like  the  London  vulgar  boys,  '  There  you  are  at 
your  old  rigs  again ' :  and  then  I  bridle  up  in  a 
moment,  and  perhaps  blush  slightly  to  think  that 
I  consumed  two  mortal  years  in  such  occupation. 
And  when  dear  Mr  Tulk  (for  whom  I  have  a  sincere 
respect)  is  at  his  gravest,  I  am  unable  to  look  at  him, 
for  fear  my  slippery  mouth  should  fail  me  (se  dif~ 
funderet),  and  I  should  give  way  to  enormous 
laughter :  so  I  am  debarred  of  his  direct  presence, 
and  eat  my  handkerchief  obliquely.  It  is  impossible 
to  convert  such  a  state  into  '  ferocity.5  You  see 
what  you  ask  when  you  require  a  leisurely  rejoinder  ?  " 
"  But,  as  I  should  vex  you  if  I  left  matters  thus, 
I  will  go  a  little  into  my  own  history  as  connected 
with  Mr  Tulk's  views.  When  I  first  began  to  read 
Swedenborg,  it  gave  a  new  impetus  to  my  whole 
mind,  and  made  me  desire  to  inform  myself  upon 
many  subjects  and  many  authors  of  whom  I  had 
never  thought  before.  And,  among  other  things, 
I  fell  into  the  very  natural  idea  that  there  was  a 
certain  parallelism  between  various  books  of  meta- 
physics and  the  writings  of  Swedenborg,  and  that 
I  ought  to  know  something  about  the  former  in  order 
to  appreciate  our  Author  correctly.  Then  I  had 
no  sooner  entered  the  pale  of  '  the  readers  '  than 


190     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

I  found  a  number  of  eddies  of  controversy,  all 
blowing  away  without  any  prospect  of  a  calm. 
These  circumstances  together  led  two  or  three  of 
us  into  rationating  about  the  existence  of  matter 
and  a  number  of  other  such  mistaken  questions. 
We  bought  Berkley,  and,  finding  how  dexterous  he 
was,  and  (above  all)  that  those  who  objected  to 
him  did  not  understand  him  (though  they  were 
substantially  right,  for  all  that,  and  perhaps  were 
right  for  not  understanding),  we  thought  we  had 
got  a  pearl  of  great  price  and  were  a  chosen  few,  for 
whom  alone  the  veil  of  Isis  was  about  to  be  uplifted. 
About  this  time  we  came  across  Mr  Tulk's  little 
Book,  and  now  our  satisfaction  was  at  its  height. 
As  I  was  the  most  enthusiastic  Berkleyan  of  the  lot, 
I  applied  to  Mr  Tulk  for  a  number  of  his  Books,  and 
by  this  means  made  his  acquaintance.  Great  as 
was  my  wonderment  at  Swedenborg,  it  seemed  to 
me  that  Mr  Tulk's  views  alone  conducted  me  into 
the  sweetest  recesses  of  the  New  Church  writings, 
and  I  spent  weeks  and  months  and  years  in  lingering 
around  these  fancied  spots.  It  is  true  that  I  some- 
times had  a  hard  battle  to  assure  myself  that  they 
were  truths  and  not  potent  conjurations ;  but  the 
will  to  be  comfortable  and  their  pleasant  imagery 
were  persistent  enough  to  maintain  me  in  this  state 
for  a  long  time.  During  this  time,  I  read  through  the 
*  Arcana  Ccelestia,'  and  seized  upon  all  the  passages 
I  could  find  confirmatory  of  my  then  views ;  these, 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  191 

however,  were  few,  far  between  and  so  far  unsatis- 
factory that  even  the  best  of  them  required  induction 
and  interpretation  in  order  to  make  them  give  the 
desired  evidence,  without  a  good  deal  of  law-giving 
skill,  they  would  easily  have  been  witnesses  on  the 
other  side.  This  was  awkward,  and  it  sometimes 
struck  me  that  it  was  not  honest  to  gather  strength 
in  this  way.  On  the  other  hand,  the  passages  clean 
against  Tulkism  were  tens  of  thousands,  but  this 
cloud  of  witnesses  was  modestly  put  out  of  court, 
under  the  pretext  that  their  utterances  were  for  the 
sensually  minded,  while  on  the  other  hand,  the 
former  class  of  passages  contained  direct  statements 
of  principles,  and  were  to  govern  all  the  rest.  Had 
I  had  the  misfortune  to  be  the  inventor  of  the  scheme, 
probably  my  amour  propre  and  my  love  of  offspring 
might  have  carried  me  through  even  the  rude  shock 
of  facts  like  these ;  but  anything  short  of  parental 
love  must  break  down  under  such  circumstances. 
A  brat  so  misbegotten,  and  manifesting  this  so  fear- 
fully by  his  contrariety  to  all  honest  opinion,  might 
soon  expect  to  be  left  by  his  mere  friends,  although 
his  Mother  should  still  cling  to  him.  I  began,  there- 
fore, instinctively  to  loosen  myself  from  these  views, 
prompted  thereto  by  a  secret  consciousness  that 
they  and  Swedenborg  were  irreconcilable. 

"  About  this  time  it  might  be  that  I  strongly  felt 
that  if  the  Tulkish  doctrines  were  true,  God  was 
still  unrevealed,  and  not  the  less  so  because  a 


192     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

sensation  of  Him  once  was  extant  in  the  world, 
and  His  image  was  in  the  human  mind  at  the  present 
day.  For,  if  the  sensation  and  the  image  came  by 
transflux  through  man,  and  therefore  were  mere 
representatives,  I  then  had  the  horrifying  contra- 
diction of  a  purely  passive  or  puppet  god,  of  which 
heaven,  hell  and  man  managed  the  strings  and 
pulled  the  wires.  To  such  a  god  I  could  not  pray, 
for  he  was,  in  the  very  worst  sense,  the  work  of  men's 
hands.  It  would  have  been  spiritual  idolatry  of  the 
lowest  kind,  that  is,  the  deification  and  worship  of 
self  ;  a  thing  which  heathenism  only  symbolized,  but 
which,  with  such  a  god  and  such  a  doctrine,  would 
have  been  converted  into  a  fact.  I  left  Tulkism 
upon  this  point,  and  acceded  to  the  Scripture  declara- 
tion that  the  Lord  is  the  First  and  the  Last,  and  to 
Swedenborg's  doctrine  that  He  is  present  to  man 
both  mediately  and  immediately,  and  that  He  alone 
is  Heaven. 

"  But,  although  I  had  thus  got  rid  of  this  peculiar 
form  of  Socinianism,  the  Berkleyan  doctrine  still 
adhered  to  me,  and  perhaps  I  have  some  remnants 
of  it  in  my  mind  even  now.  I  regard  it  as  a  logical 
circle  of  which  the  falsity  is  most  easily  demonstrated 
by  the  fact  of  impotence.  It  is  evidently  out  of 
the  order  of  nature,  because  it  is  a  thing  which  can 
do  nothing,  and  can  generate  nothing,  and  therefore 
has  no  right  to  exist.  It  is  precisely  like  our  self- 
hood in  this ;  and,  what  is  curious,  it  makes  us 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  198 

doubtful  of  the  existence  of  each  other,  and  isolates 
us  hopelessly,  proving  here  again  where  it  comes 
from.  Whether  or  not  it  is  worse  than  materialism 
were  a  piece  of  casuistry  hard  to  determine.  I 
believe  a  set  of  Berkeleyans  would  be  lazier  dogs  than 
the  same  number  of  materialists  ;  perhaps  as  Hindoo 
Atheists  compared  with  French  ones. 

"  But  I  was  not  satisfied  to  get  rid  of  Berkeley 
simply  on  the  ground  of  fruitlessness ;  but,  by 
investigating  some  of  his  leading  aphorisms  in  the 
light  of  the  New  Church  Doctrine,  I  found  I  had 
abundant  reason  to  refuse  to  start  with  him  through 
his  Logic.  His  whole  book  rests,  I  think,  upon  the 
answer  which  he  makes  Philonous  give  to  the  question, 
'  Can  anything  but  a  sensation  be  like  a  sensation  ?  ' 
and  to  which  answer  poor  silly  Hylas  of  course 
assents.  I  do  not,  and  the  Book,  therefore,  with 
me,  stops  there ;  or,  like  a  burst  bubble,  goes  into 
an  incredibly  small  compass.  Consider  here  these 
truths — Man  is  not  Life,  but  a  recipient  of  Life. 
The  Lord  alone  is  Life,  etc.,  etc.,  etc. 

"  Having  got  so  far,  by  the  merciful  course  of 
Providence  I  was  led  to  study  Swedenborg's  Scientific 
Works,  and,  by  this  means,  I  furnished  the  lower 
storeys  of  my  mind  with  positive  doctrines  of  nature, 
in  the  room  of  that  flatulent  stuff  which  I  had  once 
considered  to  be  a  just  account  of  the  Creation. 
Thus  also  I  saw  the  stages  through  which  Sweden- 
borg's mind  was  empowered  from  on  high  to  arrive 

N 


194     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

at  those  doctrines  which  are  given  in  his  Theology, 
and  were  as  far  as  possible  removed  from  all  we  call 
metaphysics.  I  saw  that  to  palm  Tulkism  upon 
Swedenborg  would  be  to  violate  his  whole  mind  and 
education,  just  as  much  as  to  violate  the  Doctrines 
of  the  New  Jerusalem.  I  saw  also  the  reason  why 
the  followers  of  Swedenborg  were  not  so  well  able 
to  repel  attacks  and  see  through  trivial  difficulties 
as  they  ought  to  be ;  viz.,  that  they  did  not  train 
their  minds  from  the  beginning  to  follow  the  flexible 
order  displayed  by  God  in  nature.  And  this  too  is 
the  reason  why  there  is  a  want  of  greenness  and 
outward  beauty  in  their  writings,  because  they 
must  be  comparatively  sandy  and  barren  until,  in  all 
ways,  they  can  come  out  into  ultimate  power  and 
works,  which  cannot  take  place  until  nature  in  her 
lowest  sphere  (i.e.  in  the  sphere  of  mechanics)  is 
seen  to  be  a  correspondence  of  the  Lord  and  the 
Spiritual  World. 

"  Now  I  have  proceeded  historically  as  regards 
my  own  mind,  to  show  you  just  what  I  have  gone 
through,  and,  if  there  is  anything  set  down  egotisti- 
cally, pray  lay  it  to  the  account  of  the  method  thus 
chosen,  and  not  altogether  to  conceit. 

"  The  sum  of  my  belief  respecting  our  friend, 
Mr  Tulk's  doctrines,  is  this  :  1.  that  his  view  re- 
specting the  Lord  is  Socinianism,  so  far  as  this, 
that  it  teaches  an  unrevealed  and  necessarily  un- 
revealable  God,  unhinging  the  worship  of  Jesus 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  195 

Christ,  by  making  Him  a  mere  image  projected 
through  finite  minds.  2.  That  his  sole  (intellectual) 
attachment  to  Swedenborg  is  by  means  of  the 
doctrine  of  correspondence ;  which,  however,  he 
manages  to  hold  in  a  fanciful  way,  unwarranted  by 
his  Author,  in  order  to  suit  his  first  and  last  doctrines, 
viz.  Socinianism  and  Berkeleyism.  3.  That  his  Ber- 
keleyism,  a  doctrine  of  nature,  instead  of  being  a 
foundation  to  his  scheme,  is  but  a  light  outer  dross, 
whereby  the  natural  world  is  made  to  smile  a  little 
upon  the  fantasies  which  his  Socinianism  produces ; 
and  yet  that  he  has  no  other  foundation, — no  scientific 
pillars  deep  sunken  in  the  nature  of  mundane  things, 
—and  hence  is  in  perpetual  insecurity,  and  can  never 
hope  to  have  half  a  dozen  followers  at  once.  .  .  . 

"  On  re-reading  this,  I  find  I  have  omitted  one 
subject,  which  is  that,  to  my  apprehension,  the 
Doctrines  of  the  New  Church  shine  with  tenfold 
lustre,  and  their  rationality  is  tenfold  more  con- 
spicuous to  me  since  I  got  rid  of  the  Tulkian  method 
of  interpreting  them.  Only  take  them  as  a  Revela- 
tion, and  proceed  by  a  large  Induction  from  the  whole 
to  read  them  aright,  rather  than  by  logical  processes 
to  insinuate  your  own  old  ideas  into  them,  and  you 
will  see  that  they  are  a  Kving  fountain  of  beauty 
and  reason." 

Whatever  may  be  thought  of  the  mental  process 
by  which  Wilkinson  rid  himself  of  Berkeleyism  and 
its  dependent  Tulkism,  this  letter  has  importance 


196     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

as  a  fragmentary  spiritual  autobiography ;  and  it 
illustrates  once  more,  if  further  illustration  were 
necessary,  how,  for  him  at  least,  Swedenborg's 
writings  were  upon  all  questions  the  ultimate  court 
of  appeal,  the  ne  plus  ultra  of  arbitration. 

We  have  seen,  in  the  Biographical  chapter,  that 
party  spirit  ran  high  in  the  Swedenborgian  bodies. 
Though  based  actually  in  profound  differences  of 
opinion,  it  sometimes  found  occasion  for  its  exhibi- 
tion in  matters  of  minor  importance.  Such  occasions 
were,  in  the  bachelors'  days  when  they  lived  together 
at  Store  Street,  not  unwelcome  to  Garth  Wilkinson 
and  his  brother. 

There  was,  however,  at  least  one  controversy 
which  cannot  be  ranked  as  of  minor  importance,  the 
editing  of  Swedenborg's  "Diarium"  by  the  Sweden- 
borg  Society.  It  has  been  alluded  to  above  (page 
169)  in  Wilkinson's  letter  to  Dr  Tafel  concerning 
the  publication  of  "  The  Dreams."  Wilkinson  gave 
an  account  of  his  first  introduction  to  the  MS.  in 
a  letter  to  his  fiancee. 

"  Yesterday  x  evening  Mr  El  well  came  to  see  me, 
as  did  also  Mr  A.  Wornum.  We  all  three  went 
together  in  the  evening  to  Mr  Sibly's  to  see  the 
original  manuscript  of  Swedenborg's  Diary.  It  is 
literally  immense :  so  closely  written,  and  withal 
so  illegible  from  abbreviations  that  it  will  be  a  work 
of  great  labour  to  edit  it.  At  the  same  time  the 

1  July  24,  1839. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  197 

contents  are  highly  curious,  and  I  am  quite  anxious 
to  see  it  printed.  The  whole  will  fill  8  or  9  octavo 
volumes.  There  are  particulars  about  numbers  of  the 
persons  of  antiquity,  and  also  about  many  illustrious 
moderns.  Altogether  it  is  a  most  wonderful  book." 

More  than  a  half  century  later,  when  few  of  those 
who  had  discussed  an  almost  forgotten  matter  can 
have  been  living,  he  wrote  to  a  friend : — 

"  1 1  cannot  separate  between  Swedenborg's 
*  Diarium  '  and  his  published  writings,  or  think  that 
the  jottings  of  the  former  are  any  more  mere  dreams 
or  visions  than  his  memorable  Relations  in  his 
published  Works.  .  .  .  But  for  my  persistent  and 
insistent  action,  the  '  Diarium '  would  never  have 
been  published  by  the  Swedenborg  Society  when  it 
was.  It  was  a  dead  letter  in  MS.  in  the  hands  of 
the  Rev.  Mansah  Sibley,  who  resisted  its  then 
publication.  I  think  that  the  Rev.  M.  Sibley  died 
in  the  nick  of  time,  and  so  the  Swedenborgian  Society 
got  hold  of  the  MS.  It  belonged  really  to  the  Royal 
Academy  of  Sciences  of  Stockholm,  having  been 
borrowed  from  it,  and  not  returned.  Through 
Baron  Berzelius,  I  got  leave  from  the  Academy  for 
its  publication,  and  personally  sent  the  MS.  off  to 
Professor  Immanuel  Tafel  at  Tubingen.  At  that 
time  it  was  said  by  a  New  Church  Minister  that  if 
the  c  Diarium '  was  published  it  would  '  disband  the 
Church.'  I  persevered,  notwithstanding." 

1  Letter  to  Mr  J.  Thomson,  October  7,  1894. 


198     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

Wilkinson  was  strong  enough  to  carry  his  point 
and  to  crush  opposition  in  this  matter ;  but  the 
feeling  of  opposition  remained  and  showed  itself 
in  disapproval  and  resentment. 

But  the  continuous  and  heavy  tasks  of  transla- 
tion in  which  he  soon  engaged  himself  deprived  the 
elder  brother  alike  of  time  and  inclination  for  un- 
necessary controversy.  The  strength  of  his  opinions 
tended  rather  to  isolation  than  to  debate ;  and  he 
did  not  without  need  appear  in  public  Sweden- 
borgian  matters.  Indeed,  even  before  his  practice 
absorbed  him  for  a  long  series  of  years,  he  relied 
almost  entirely  upon  the  written,  as  distinguished 
from  the  spoken,  word  for  the  promulgation  of  what 
he  believed  and  thought. 

In  1847  and  1849  Wilkinson  delivered  lectures 
before  the  Swedenborg  Association.  The  extract 
which  follows  is  an  answer  to  criticism  upon  the 
latter.1 

"  Your  onslaught  number  two  is  more  serious. 
You  cite  from  me  that  *  there  is  less  of  the  Divine 
seed  in  the  world  than  there  was  in  Swedenborg's 
mind  a  hundred  years  ago,  and,  if  we  go  on  at  this 
rate,  there  will  soon  be  none  left.'  Now  read  the 
context  and  remember  the  occasion.  Remember 
that  I  was  speaking  to  nobody  but  the  Swedenborg 
Association,  which  professes  to  carry  out  Sweden- 
borg's  doctrines  through  all  things.  The  passage 

1  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  James,  June  28,  1845). 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  199 

never  was  meant  to  convey  anything  but  a  rebuke 
to  that  audience  for  having  done  nothing,  for  having 
possessed  themselves  of  Swedenborg  and  never 
sown,  reaped,  or  resown  him.  It  was  perfectly  true 
of  them.  They  have  so  put  themselves  under  Sweden- 
borg, that  if  they  don't  follow  him  out,  they  do 
nothing.  Had  I  not  been  (very  unwillingly)  address- 
ing that  body,  I  should  never  have  mentioned 
Swedenborg's  name,  should  hardly  have  thought 
of  him.  Of  the  very  people  there  present,  I  believe 
every  one  to  live  in  an  atmosphere  and  stratum  of 
truths  deeper  and  wider  than  Swedenborg  ever 
dreamt  of :  only  not  consciously,  because  they  see 
only  Swedenborgically.  I  believe  that  our  modern 
plane  of  existence  is  human  and  social  in  quite  a  new 
sense,  and  that  good  Swedenborg  knew  not  of  it. 
He  was  not  aware  of  the  existence  of  the  Social 
World,  save  as  an  atmosphere  :  he  saw  clean  through 
it,  and  consequently  saw  nothing  in  it." 

People  do  not  like  to  be  scolded,  however  faithful 
and  well-intentioned  the  scolder;  and  these  people 
revenged  themselves  upon  the  scolder  by  doubting 
the  orthodoxy  of  his  view  Concerning  Swedenborg. 
The  attitude  of  suspicion  taken  up  by  the  sectarian 
class  of  Swedenborgians  was  long  maintained,  and 
it  betrayed  itself  in  a  half-hearted  support  of  their 
champion,  in  failure  to  welcome  and  use  his  work. 

Such  an  attitude  was  by  no  means  universal 
among  the  Swedenborgians  :  Wilkinson  had  always 


200     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

his  enthusiastic  followers  who  saw  the  man  and  his 
work  as  faithful  and  as  of  vital  importance  to  their 
cause.  But  the  doubt  and  suspicion  were  evident 
enough  to  the  subject  of  them.1 

"  No  news  has  come  from  Mr  Clapp  yet,  and  I  am 
therefore  uncertain  whether  my  second  batch  of 
proofs  has  arrived,  and  whether  my  Life  of  Sweden- 
borg  is  published  (in  America)  or  not.  Newberry 
tells  me  that  the  New  Church  people  are  very  decided 
in  their  vituperation  of  the  Book,  and  that  they 
patronize  it  not  at  all.  He  has  not  sold  200  copies, 
and  will  be  sadly  out  of  pocket,  poor  man.  However, 
it  is  eagerly  read  by  many  of  those  persons  whose 
ear  I  have  desired,  and  specially  by  the  most  in- 
telligent among  the  Unitarians.  I  am  somewhat 
curious  to  know  what  its  fate  may  be  on  your  side 
of  the  water." 

The  Swedenborgians  may  have  held  aloof  from  the 
book  for  a  time ;  but  they  ultimately  discovered 
that  its  aim  was  good  and  that  it  fulfilled  its  aim. 
It  ran  out  of  print,  and  a  call  for  a  second  edition 
was  met  in  1888.  It  remains  the  classical  work 
upon  the  subject,  alike  for  the  Swedenborgian  and 
the  general  reader. 

Good  work  is  seldom  done  without  opposition 
and  misunderstanding,  and  there  is  no  need  to  enter 
at  greater  length  into  old  differences  of  opinion 
and  action  than  is  necessary  to  show  that  in  his 

1  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  James,  January  25,  1850. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  201 

following  of  Swedenborg,  as  in  every  cause  which 
he  espoused,  Wilkinson  was  prepared  to  stand,  and 
did  stand,  alone.  This  was  often  disheartening. 
But  he  had  the  satisfaction  of  knowing  that  opinion 
came  round  to  his  side.  Many  years  before  he  ended 
together  his  writing  and  his  life,  he  was  generally 
recognized  as  the  most  learned,  industrious,  and 
outspoken  of  all  who  "  read  the  Writings." 

Among  the  various  definitions  of  genius  which 
have  been  offered,  the  best  known  and  almost  the 
worst  in  quality  is  that  which  calls  it  "  the  trans- 
cendent capacity  for  taking  pains."  Upon  such  a 
definition,  and  upon  much  better  grounds,  Wilkin- 
son's claim  to  genius  as  a  translator  would  be 
unimpeachable.1 

"  '  The  Economy  of  the  Animal  Kingdom '  is  pro- 
ceeding apace  through  the  press,  208  pages  being 
now  printed.  This  Work  does  not  diminish  my 
interest  in  the  natural  philosophy  promulgated  by 
Swedenborg.  It  is,  however,  a  very  difficult  Treatise 
to  follow ;  and,  when  I  tell  you  that,  after  reading 
every  proof  four  times,  I  still  find  that  I  have  not 
half  exhausted  the  meaning,  and  in  many  cases 
have  not  perceived  the  ratio  of  the  general  order 
at  all,  you  will,  I  think,  consider  that  the  work  is 
not  calculated  at  first  hand  for  the  popular  amuse- 
ment. Deeply  interesting  as  the  matter,  for  the 
most  part,  is,  the  method  is  perhaps  to  the  full  as 

1  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  James,  February  1844. 


JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

instructive  to  the  mind  as  the  matter.  There  is, 
every  now  and  then,  such  a  masterly  flinging  on 
one  side  of  the  obtrusive  yet  non-essential  parts  of 
a  subject,  and  such  a  long  discernment  of  the  quiet, 
retiring  centres  and  pivots  of  things.  We  see  a 
mind  for  which  the  still  small  voices  of  creation  are 
excellent  music,  a  mind  whose  stillness  is  itself  so 
profound  that  the  mixed  harmonies  are  its  veriest 
language.  This  must  incite  us  all  to  cultivate  a 
finer  sense,  and  to  receive  it  as  a  settled  truth  that 
there  is  ever  something  more  in  nature  than  the  order 
first  presented  to  the  senses ;  that  this  order  is  the 
lowest,  a  chaos  (as  it  were)  of  essentials  and  non- 
essentials  ;  and  that  the  latter  must  be  rejected 
to  the  sides  of  the  circumference,  to  give  breadth 
to  the  series,  while  the  former  must  be  placed  in 
the  direct  line  of  descent,  and  then  contemplated  as 
the  main  progressions  of  Creative  Wisdom.  But  I 
must  stow  this,  for  I  am  getting  into  a  Treatise." 
More  than  two  years  later  he  is  able  to  write  : —  1 
"  My  labours  on  the '  Economy '  are,  I  may  say,  done. 
The  last  sheet  of  my  Preface  (it  makes  more  than 
five  sheets)  is  printed ;  and,  by  the  next  boat,  I 
intend  to  send  you  three  or  four  copies  of  it.  I  am 
sure  that  it  is  not  in  your  way,  being  altogether 
critical,  literary,  biographical,  controversial,  British- 
Museum-ish ;  and  not  universal,  spiritual,  or  organic. 
For  I  know  my  own  powers,  and  that  they  limit  me 

1  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  James,  April  18,  1846. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  203 

absolutely  to  the  former  walk,  and  therefore  I  go 
in  it  cheerfully,  hoping  that  it  may  be  of  use  for 
better  things.  To  me,  everything  which  dissipates 
any  bit  of  misconception  or  nonsense  about  Sweden- 
borg,  or  which  gives  a  new  correct  notion,  is  of 
importance ;  and  my  labours  are  a  jotting  down 
of  some  such  things  as  these.  Bibliography,  in  an 
extended  sense,  is  the  whole  idea  of  them.  If  they 
fail  of  this,  they  are  good  for  nothing ;  in  so  far  as 
they  succeed  in  this,  my  end  is  realized  in  them." 

The  piece  of  work  thus  estimated  by  its  author  is 
one  of  those  concerning  which  Mr  Emerson  wrote  : — 

"  The  admirable  preliminary  discourses  with  which 
Mr  Wilkinson  has  enriched  these  volume.,  throw 
all  the  contemporary  philosophy  of  England  into 
shade."  But  it  is  good  to  be  humble.  The  spade- 
work  and  drudgery  which  produced  these  translations 
and  introductions  built  the  foundations  of  that 
deep  knowledge  of  Swedenborg's  Works  which 
were  to  bear  superstructures  valuable  to  all  time 
to  the  New  Church. 

Concerning  his  translation  of  Swedenborg's  work, 

'  The  Generative  Organs  considered  anatomically, 

physically,  and  philosophically,"  Wilkinson  wrote : — l 

4i  I  am  bringing  out,  parallel  with  my  work  on 
the  Body,  a  Translation  of  Swedenborg's  work 
on  the  Generative  organs  of  both  sexes :  a  book 
of  singular  suggestiveness,  though  not  very  com- 

1  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  James,  August  2,  1850. 


204     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

patible  with  the  smugness  and  straightlacedness  of 
many  of  the  followers  of  Swedenborg.  However, 
the  Swedenborg  Association  has  had  the  boldness 
to  commission  me  to  execute  a  version.  I  cannot 
help  regarding  it  as  one  small  help  on  the  way  to  a 
greater  liberty  of  thought  and  knowledge  on  sexual 
subjects.  It  will  at  all  events  make  them  matters 
of  contemplation,  and  begin,  therefore,  to  rescue 
them  from  that  heavily  covered  animality  and 
hypocrisy  which  at  present  lies  in  them.  Our 
existing  education  on  this  head  can  only  be  char- 
acterized as  unconsciously  piggish !  But  when  the 
wings  of  Science  and  Spirit  come  and  annex  them- 
selves, the  gross  parts  will  be  raised  into  the  air, 
and  things  before  invisible  and  unutterable  will  be 
seen  to  be  as  clean  as  the  flowers  of  the  field  or  as  the 
pleasant  butterflies,  which  are  the  flowers  of  flowers. 
But,  doubtless,  even  these  must  be  fenced  round, 
lest  the  pigs  should  run  grunting  to  eat  them." 

This  view,  that  daylight  and  fresh  air  will  purge 
the  uncleanness  which  has  attached  itself  to  Nature, 
was  quite  characteristic  of  the  man.  Here,  as  on 
the  question  of  publishing  Swedenborg's  "Diary," 
he  was  all  in  favour  of  outspeaking. 

Wilkinson  frequently  brought  Swedenborg  and 
his  message  before  those  in  whom  he  hoped  that 
acquaintance  would  fructify  into  service  :  among  such 
were  Thomas  Carlyle  and  Miss  Harriet  Martineau.1 

1  Letter  to  Miss  Marsh,  October  22,  1839. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  205 

"  On  Saturday  I  wrote  Mr  Carlyle  a  reply  to  his 
kind  letter,  sending  him,  on  loan,  what  biographical 
notices  of  Swedenborg  I  could  procure.  I  also  gave 
him  a  few  particulars  about  the  Philosophical  Works 
and  the  '  Diary  of  Memorabilia,'  which  is  in  manu- 
script, and  I  told  him  my  motives  for  having  troubled 
him  so  much  with  the  Books,  namely,  that  I  wished 
him  to  have  before  him  materials  for  forming  and 
expressing  to  the  world  an  opinion  on  the  subject. 
Whether  this  may  produce  anything  further  I 
know  not,  and,  indeed,  having  now  done  my  part, 
I  must  leave  him  to  himeslf." 

Miss   Martineau   acknowledged   his   present   very 
sympathetically  (October  22,  1838)  :- 

"It  is  my  intention  to  read  with  seriousness  and 
diligence  the  book  you  have  sent  me  :  and  I  believe 
I  shall  sit  down  to  the  work  under  somewhat  less 
than  the  ordinary  degree  of  prejudice  on  the  subject. 
I  agree  largely  in  some  of  the  practical  parts  of  the 
faith  of  your  Church,  and  thence  have  a  respect  by 
anticipation  for  the  speculative  portions  which  I 
do  not  yet  understand  or  agree  with.  Mr  Sampson 
Reed  has  been  kind  enough  to  furnish  me  with  much 
material  for  inight  into  the  belief  and  practice  of 
your  Church,  and  the  more  I  learn  the  more  desirous 
I  am  that  both  should  be  better  understood  than 
they  are." 

Of  much  later  date,  though  brought  about  by 
similar  propagandist  work  on  Wilkinson's  part,  are 


206     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

the   letters   from   Robert   Browning   and   Coventry 
Patmore,  both  of  whom  were  his  old  friends.1 

"  MY  DEAR  DR  WILKINSON,  —  Your  kind  note 
did  indeed  render  active — rather  than  waken — 
many  memories,  pleasant  and  painful  together,  as 
must  happen  in  such  a  case  :  you,  however,  stay 
associated  with  nothing  that  is  other  than  pleasurable. 
Thank  you  very  much  for  the  book  I  shall  read  with 
great  interest.  I  well  remember  the  letter  in  which 
you  recommended  me  to  study  Swedenborg.  I 
believe  that  you  and  I  have  always  been  in  accordance 
as  to  aspiration  and  sympathy,  though  we  may 
differ  in  our  appreciation  of  the  relative  importance 
of  facts  connected  with  them. 

"  I  am  glad  to  suppose,  both  from  what  you  tell 
me  and  what  you  are  silent  about,  that  on  the  whole 
things  go  well  with  you.  So  may  they  continue  ! 
I  too  have  an  elderly  child — a  son,  and  I  live  with 
my  sister,  whom  you  must  have  seen  in  old  days 
when  poor  Dow  was  young. 

"  Believe  me,  with  reiterated  thanks  for  your 
gift  and  kind  words, — Yours  very  cordially, 

"ROBERT  BROWNING." 

Mr  Coventry  Patmore  was  inclined  to  regard 
Swedenborg  in  the  rather  odd  aspect  of  a  Papist 
manque.  Writing  in  1891,  he  says  : — 

1  Letter  from  Mr  Browning1,  May  17,  1887. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  207 

"  I  am  very  glad  to  see  your  handwriting  again, 
after  so  many  years.  Your  4  cloth  differs  '  less  than 
you  suppose  from  mine.  I  claim  Swedenborg  as 
the  greatest  of  Roman  Catholic  prophets,  since  St 
Augustine  at  least.  Swedenborg's  great  inspiration, 
like  that  of  all  the  Prophets  and  Apostles,  was 
purely  ethical  and  psychological,  and  did  not  prevent 
him  making  mistakes  about  other  things,  any  more 
than  the  inspirations  of  the  Evangelists  prevented 
them  from  giving  four  different  versions  of  the 
inscription  on  the  Cross.  All  the  time  that  S.  was 
abusing  the  Catholics  for  holding  false  doctrine,  he 
was  mainly  teaching  pure  Catholic  doctrine,  as  it  is 
and  always  has  been  held  by  the  Saints,  though  the 
Parish  Priest,  partly  from  his  own  usual  ignorance 
and  partly  from  the  brutish  condition  of  his  con- 
gregation, is  compelled  to — 

( Make  Truth  look  as  near  a  lie 
As  can  comport  with  her  divinity.' 

Your  own  people,  you  know,  are  just  as  stupid,  and 
know  no  more  of  what  Swedenborg  meant  than  ours 
do  of  the  meaning  of  the  Breviary.  It  was  Sweden- 
borg mainly  that  brought  me  into  the  Catholic 
Church." 

A  year  later,  Mr  Patmore  wrote  to  the  same 
purpose  : — 

"  I  am  reading  your  new  book  with  the  greatest 
pleasure  and  profit,  as,  indeed,  I  read  all  your  books. 


208     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

The  '  Summa '  of  St  Thomas  Aquinas  and  your 
volume  of  selections  from  Swedenborg  have,  for 
many  years,  formed  the  groundwork  of  all  my 
reading  :  and,  you  will  perhaps  be  surprised  to  hear 
that  they  seem  to  me  to  be  but  two  aspects  of  one 
and  the  same  Catholic  truth,  St  Thomas  appealing 
mainly  to  the  ear  of  rational  faith,  Swedenborg 
to  the  perceptive  faculty." 

Swedenborg's  writings  have  been  indicted  as 
teaching  an  intellectual,  rather  than  a  spiritual, 
religion — a  religion  more  of  the  head  than  of  the 
heart ;  and  the  indictment  is  supported  by  the 
inscription  which  he  saw,  in  one  of  his  visions,  upon 
a  Temple  in  Heaven,  Nunc  licet  intrare  intellect- 
ualiter  in  mysterid  fidei.  Wilkinson's  work,  con- 
cerned largely  with  the  intellectual  apprehension  of 
matters  spiritual,  might  seem  open  to  a  similar 
charge :  but,  in  fact,  he  would  have  none  of  a 
religion  which,  while  it  flattered  the  mind,  left  the 
conduct  untouched.1 

"  Really  and  truly,  the  worshipping  of  this  idol 
intelligence  is  the  greatest  absurdity  that  can  be, 
as  it  is  the  prevailing  one  of  the  present  day.  It  is 
but  a  shade  higher  than  Mammon- worship.  For, 
only  think  what  intelligence  is9  apart  from  use. 
What  does  it  do  ?  What  monuments  does  it  leave  ? 
What  men  does  it  lead  to  Heaven  ?  "  He  goes  on 
to  distinguish  between  knowledge  and  wisdom, 

1  Letter  to  Miss  Marsh,  December  3,  1839. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  209 

and  to  extol  a  religion  which  seeks  the  latter. 
In  another  letter  of  the  same  year,  he  returns 
to  the  subject  from  a  slightly  different  point  of 
view. 

"  I  am  very  much  pleased  with  the  mention  you 
make  of  Sampson  Reed's  book.  I  was  confident 
you  would  like  it,  and  I  am  quite  of  your  opinion 
regarding  the  bearing  of  the  sentence  you  quote 
from  Carlyle.  After  all,  it  seems  to  me  to  come  to 
this,  that  man  sees  not  only  with  his  eye,  but  with 
himself,  and  consequently  his  vision  is  such  as  his 
interior  being  is.  This  is  clearly  implied  in  the 
commonest  way  of  stating  it,  when  we  say,  '  He 
sees,'  for,  to  see  well  not  only  implies  a  clear  cornea 
but  a  fit  ground  of  vision.  It  is  not  the  mere  trans- 
parency of  the  intellect  which  makes  the  mind's 
sight  acute  and  perfect,  but  the  will  also  must  have 
a  predisposition  to  be  affected  with  the  things  which 
the  intellect  perceives.  All  (of)  which  our  friend 
Sampson  has  stated  far  better  than  I  can  do,  yet 
still  it  sometimes  makes  an  impression  and  even 
sets  the  thing  in  a  better  light  when  those  we  love 
talk  it  over  in  their  own  familiar  way,  and  that  for 
the  very  reason  just  given ;  that  then  the  will  is 
sure  to  be  somewhat  fixed  upon  the  same  point  as 
the  intellect." 

And,  in  fact  as  well  as  in  theory,  Wilkinson  kept 
a  just  distance  between  faith  and  knowledge,  holding, 
with  Bishop  Pearson,  that  "  those  things  which 


210     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

are  apparent  are  not  said  properly  to  be  believed 
but  to  be  known."  1 

"  I  have  read  your  strictures  on  Mr  Tennant 
(See  page  74)  with  interest.  First,  the  facts  are 
important,  and  I  do  believe  them  to  be  facts. 
As  to  the  theory  of  God's  intervention,  let  us 
hold  it  very  gently.  However,  that  God  does 
intervene  in  the  most  partial  as  well  as  in  the  most 
universal  ways  who  can  doubt  ?  Furthermore,  that 
there  are  certain  hieroglyphical  or  correspondential 
powers  given  to  certain  actions — that  gesture  and 
attitude  bring  spirit  with  them — I  hold  to  be  in- 
disputable. If  we  could  work  the  Science  of  corre- 
spondences, we  should  be  enabled  to  perform  many 
wonders,  without  any  new  substances  being  called 
into  play.  In  Mesmerism,  if  we  knew  what  wrinkle 
of  face  and  what  play  of  fingers  gave  the  shape 
correspondent  to  any  drug,  we  might  produce  its 
effects  upon  a  susceptible  patient  by  one  look 
or  one  pointing  or  one  beckon.  This  is  a  deep 
part  of  the  universal  laws  of  nature.  The  Name 
of  God  has  also,  I  doubt  not,  its  own  natural 
powers." 

As  his  writings  gained  acceptance  and  as  he 
became  himself  acknowledged  as  the  most  extensive 
existing  repository  of  Swedenborgian  lore,  Wilkinson's 
correspondence  became  enormous,  it  must  have 
constituted  a  severe  tax  upon  his  leisure;  but  he 

1  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  .lames,  June  1,  1849. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN 

never  complained,  and  it  may  be  doubted  whether 
any  inquirer  failed  to  receive  an  answer.  Many 
such  correspondents  wrote  from  America.  One 
inquires  about  Jasper  Svedborg,  the  father  of 
Emanuel  Swedenborg,  another  writes  to  suggest  that 
a  new  edition  of  ( '  The  Human  Body  "  should  be 
prepared,  with  anatomical  plates  for  the  benefit 
of  lay  students ;  there  are  inquirers  concerning 
the  correspondential  bearings  of  commerce,  the 
early  African  nations  and  upon  a  host  of  other  like 
matters. 

From  answers  to  such  correspondents  and  also 
from  obiter  dicta  on  Swedenborgian  subjects,  I 
propose  to  give  extracts,  allowing  them  to  stand 
disjointed,  as  they  came  day  by  day  from  his  pen. 
They  will  be  found  loosely  grouped  together  accord- 
ing to  their  subject  matter. 

1  "  '  Fairbrass  ' 2  is  not  indeed,  as  you  well  remark, 
devoted  to  '  the  light  and  pretty  '  and  new  ideas 
and  connexions  of  the  narrative  with  the  birds  and 
flowers.  All  nature  is  always  conversing  about 
good  and  evil,  and  nothing  of  her  inner  voices, 
irrespective  of  these  grand  and  terrible  Rulers,  is 
light  or  pretty  in  her.  The  Science  of  Correspond- 
ence talks  :  '  Day  unto  day  uttereth  speech,  and 
night  into  night  showeth  knowledge.'  There  is  no 
speech  or  language  when  their  voice  is  not  heard. 

1  Letter  to  Mr  John  Martin,  October  I,  1894. 

2  A  character  in  "  A  Child's  Story/'  by  E.  Pemberton. 


JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

Their  line  (?)  is  gone  out  into  all  the  earth,  and  their 
words  unto  the  end  of  the  world.  In  them  hath 
He  set  a  Tabernacle  for  the  Sun." 

"  Since,  without  these  spiritual  factors,  there 
is  no  truth  in  talking  walking-sticks  or  kneeling 
knights,  inventions  about  them  otherwise  inspired 
are  frivolous,  and  do  not  touch  anything  of  the  heart, 
even  in  children.  It  is  the  shining  down  from  an 
internal  light  upon  a  dark  world  that  gives  zest  to 
all  myth  and  fairyland." 

1  "  I  shall  most  likely  stroll  down  about  2,  when 
the  Procession  leaves  the  Palace,  and  though  myriads 
of   common   human   beings,   uncrowned,   will   most 
likely  be  all  I  shall  see,  I  shall  have  feelings  which 
are  recompense  for  the  sight  of  Royalty  I  shall 
scarcely   get.     We   before   talked   of   our   common 
awe  in  witnessing  the  majesty  of  human  masses. 
I   always    now   think    doctrinally   of    such    things 
as  even  these.     I  cannot  help  looking  toward  the 
Being  in  whom  all  these  particles  of  Man  are  in 
union    or    oneness,    that    Divine    and    unbounded 
Man  of  whom  all  men  in  all  times  and  countries 
and  planets  are  but  the  diverse  images  and  forms ; 
whilst    he    is    their    unchanging    and    Substantial 
Humanity. 

2  "  I  should  have  liked  to  be  one  of  your  party 

1  Letter  to  Miss  Marsh,  November  8,  1837.  This  refers  to 
Queen  Victoria's  visit  to  the  City  on  the  following  day,  Lord 
Mayor's  Day. 

2"Letter  to  Miss  Marsh,  September  11,  1838. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  213 

when  you  visited  the  Great  Western  Steamer.  I 
do  take  such  a  deep  interest  in  all  these  new  births 
of  this  Time,  for  they  seem  to  me  signs  of  still  greater 
changes  which  are  passing  over  the  souls  of  men, 
from  which  they  come  forth  to  tell  tales  to  those 
who  like  to  listen,  of  what  is  going  on  in  the  invisible 
Kingdom,  where  they  originate." 


SPIRITUAL  AND  NATURAL  NOURISHMENT 

1  "  Reading  '  The  Arcana '  yesterday,  I  came  on  a 
passage  Gil  Spiritual  and  Natural  nourishment,  and 
the  correspondence  between  them,  and  how  they 
help  each  other ! 

6  That  Scientifics  and  truths  sustain  men's  souls 
is  manifest  from  the  desires  of  knowing  instinct 
in  all  men,  and  likewise  from  the  correspondence 
of  food  with  scientifics  :  which  correspondence  also 
manifests  itself  during  the  taking  of  food,  for,  if 
this  be  done  whilst  one  is  discoursing  and  listening 
to  discourse,  the  vessels  which  receive  the  chyle  are 
opened,  and  the  man  is  more  fully  nourished  than 
if  he  (or  she)  eats  alone.  Spiritual  truths  and  the 
instruction  in  them  would  have  such  an  effect  with 
men  if  they  were  in  the  love  of  good'  ('Arcana,' 
n.  6078). 

"  How  important  therefore  it  is  not  to  confirm 

1  Letter  to  Miss  E.  L.  Pertz,  October  29,  1883. 


«14     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

the  habit  of  isolation  at  what  might  be  sacrament- 
times,  will  come  home  to  you." 


SIGNIFICANCE  OF  EARTHQUAKES  1 

6  You  ask  me  about  Earthquakes,  what  they 
proceed  from  ?  Do  you  mean  naturally  or  spiritu- 
ally ?  Spiritually,  Swedenborg  tells  us,  they  re- 
present and  proceed  from  '  changes  of  the  state  of 
the  church  ' ;  and  I  should  think,  from  changes 
of  the  grander  kind.  The  Earth  represents  the 
natural  man ;  the  Earth's  surface,  the  natural  man 
exteriorly  illuminated  by  the  heat  and  light  of  the 
Spiritual  Sun ;  that  is  by  love  and  faith ;  but  if 
only  exteriorly,  and  not  interiorly,  his  Earth's  green 
and  illumined  surface  consists  of  the  hypocritical 
pretences  of  love,  and  the  mere  knowledges  of  faith. 
The  depths  of  the  Earth,  from  which  the  Earth- 
quakes begin,  represent  the  interiors  of  the  natural 
man  at  variance  with  the  exteriors ;  and  conse- 
quently Earthquakes  represent  the  state  when  the 
interiors  are  about,  by  mighty  commotions,  to 
destroy  the  fair  surface  of  the  exteriors  ;  or  when 
inward  lusts  of  evil  are  about  to  overwhelm  every- 
thing of  spiritual  knowledge  and  even  of  seeming 
love,  in  the  superficial  aspect  of  the  man ;  and  to 
reduce  the  whole  man  into  a  final  or  homogeneous 
state  of  barren,  stony  desolation." 

1  Letter  to  Miss  Marsh,  September  10,  1839. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  215 

THE  CLOTHING  OF  ADAM  AND  EVE  l 

''  Tell that  I  think  there  must  be  survivals 

of  correspondences  among  savage  tribes.  The  fig- 
leaves  came  as  a  deep  perception  to  the  inspired 
writer  of  the  Word  in  Genesis.  They  signify  the 
lapse  out  of  celestial  into  natural  good  remaining, 
into  its  lower  mind,  now  covering  the  deeper  lost 
innocence.  Adam  and  Eve  made  these  for  them- 
selves (verse  7).  But  (verse  21)  The  Lord  made 
them  skins  ;  signifying  a  deeper  lapse,  and  a  greater 
covering.  It  is  all  written  in  6  Arcana,'  vol.  i." 

MENTAL  DEPRESSION,  CONSCIOUS  SEPARATION  FROM 

GOD2 

"  You  mistake  greatly,  if  you  think  that  I  have 
a  greater  insight  in  times  of  trouble,  into  the  uses 
and  ends  of  temptation,  than  other  people,  or  than 
you.  Trouble  involves  the  want  of  this  percep- 
tion, and  hence  the  confused  state  of  mind  which 
all  wretchedness  causes.  All  wretchedness  consists 
in  the  feeling  that  we  are  living  for  no  end ;  and 
really,  that  we  are  thus  living  unconnected  from  the 
Supreme  End,  or  the  Lord.  If  you  take  any  case 
of  unhappiness  whatever,  you  will  find  that  this 
is  the  case ;  they  all  involve  the  doubt  in  the  man's 
mind,  of  '  what  good  is  my  life  to  me  ?  '  In  other 

1  Letter  to  Miss  E.  L.  Pertz,  August  23,  1888. 

2  Letter  to  Miss  Marsh,  September  10,  1839. 


216     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

words,  '  what  am  I  living  for  ?  '  And  thus  they 
all  consist  in  a  felt  separation,  greater  or  lesser, 
higher  or  lower,  from  the  End  of  Ends.  Thus  you 
perceive,  that  in  times  of  trouble,  every  man  alike 
must  feel  a  want  of  perception  of  the  use  of  the 
things  which  come  over  him.  Yet  still  there  are 
differences  in  men  on  this  matter.  In  some  the 
whole  thing  appears  perfectly  hopeless,  for  they 
have  no  faith  in  happiness  at  all,  or  in  other  words, 
there  is  no  affirmation  of  any  end  in  any  part  or 
^acuity  of  their  mind  or  being.  These  are  they  who 
delight  in  being  miserable,  and  are  the  most  selfish 
of  men,  and  in  almost  total  separation  from  the 
Supreme  Goodness  and  Love.  They  are  misan- 
thropists, and  only  admit  the  existence  of  God,  that 
they  must  have  the  power  of  charging  Him  with 
their  miseries.  Their  miseries  are  not  temptations, 
but  are  the  results  of  the  loss  of  worldly  things, 
such  as  power,  money  or  fame.  But  there  is  quite 
another  class  of  sufferers,  (are  we  not  all  sufferers 
in  one  class  or  the  other,  or  a  class  intermediate 
between  the  two  ?)  whose  griefs  are  the  results  of 
the  perception  of  evil  in  themselves,  and  whose 
trials  are  all  purifying  temptations.  They  constantly 
feel,  more  and  more  deeply,  that  they  are  not  good, 
and  that  thus  they  are  not  connected  as  they  should 
be  with  the  one  great  end  of  Being.  Yet  still  in 
all  their  gloom  they  see  just  enough  of  star  and 
moonlight  overhead,  to  show  them  that  there  is  a 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  217 

plan  of  journey,  and  a  series  of  definite  objects  to 
be  passed,  and  a  number  of  ends  to  be  attained ; 
though  the  light  does  not  suffice  them,  perhaps,  to 
distinguish  definitely  a  single  thing  :  still  less  are 
they  cheered  by  a  single  warming  ray.  They  only 
have  a  cold  knowledge  of  the  general  fact,  without 
any  particulars  to  illustrate  it,  and  without  any 
comfort  in  knowing  it.  But  they  persevere,  for 
God  is  with  them,  turning  their  darkness  into  light, 
and  their  moon  into  a  sun.  They  are  big  with  the 
coming  day,  and  are  unceasingly  advancing  towards 
it ;  and  every  moment  of  gloom  is  the  necessary 
way  to  it,  for  there  is  a  Divine  Force,  which  is  driv- 
ing itself  on  through  them,  and  the  darkness,  and 
kindling  day  in  the  midst  of  both. 

"  What  can  it  be,  but  God,  which  thus  makes  us 
persevere  in  our  way,  when  we  have  no  pleasure  in 
persevering  ?  which  gives  us  a  faith  in  the  final 
good  of  our  being,  when  we  have  no  view  of  any 
good  at  all  ?  The  battle  and  the  victory  of  tempta- 
tion, when  a  man  fights  against  himself,  and  against 
his  likings  is  indeed  a  mystery,  which  requires  us  to 
admit  something  more  than  self  as  the  agent  of  the 
wondrous  conflict.  I  often  feel,  that  for  a  man  to 
go  forth  in  helm  and  plume,  and  fight  against  his 
fellows,  is  natural  and  easy  enough,  for  all  the 
motives  of  himself  drive  him  to  do  so ;  but  that  for 
a  man  to  fight  against  his  pleasures,  inclinations, 
natural  propensities,  and  early  acquired  habitudes, 


218     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

is  no  such  easy  thing  to  conceive ;  and  indeed  it 
could  not  be  conceived,  if  it  were  not  felt,  more 
or  less  in  all  temptation.  '  A  man's  enemies  are 
those  of  his  own  household.'  " 


MANY  INHABITED  WORLD  s1 

"  I  welcome  the  moral  of  your  muse.  Some  good 
flowing  in  and  flowing  out  is  indispensable,  to  give 
real  worth  to  song.  There  must  be  psalm,  whether 
plain  or  veiled  at  the  centre,  and  your  dream  comes 
to  you  from  good  stars,  teaching  you  that  temptation 
undergone  and  vanquished,  and  the  cheer  that 
comes  after  are  the  Way,  the  Truth  and  the  Life 
of  whatever  is  finally  lovely. 

"  You  deal  accurately  with  the  astronomic  con- 
ception of  the  dead  moon  and  the  blasted  volcanic 
coffin  of  it.  Can  fire  have  existed  there  if  there 
were  no  atmosphere  ?  My  belief  is  that  there  is 
no  planet  or  sufficient  satellite  but  has  human  beings 
upon  it.  Looking  from  the  faith  that  the  creative 
Love  and  Wisdom  of  the  Almighty  myriads  of  solar 
systems  cannot  satisfy  the  Infinite  Man  and  Saviour, 
the  revealed  thought  is  welcome,  that  an  unmeasur- 
able  variety  of  Man  is  demanded  to  fill  the  nursery 
planets  of  the  firmament.  Also  there  is,  as  in 
Geology,  a  perfect  order  in  this  immensity.  You 
want  flesh  and  bone  of  every  kind,  from  the  summit 

1  Letter  to  Miss  Alice  Head,  December  24,  1898. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  219 

to  the  base  of  the  universal  Man  here  discerned. 
Therefore  we  have  not  brains  enough  or  imagina- 
tions enough  to  limit  the  breath,  and  consequently 
spiritual  capacity,  of  the  Lunar  people.  The  longer 
we  live,  if  we  are  advancing  in  true  light,  the  more 
we  shall  find  that  truth  eclipses  fiction,  that  godly 
science,  in  its  activity  and  rejection  of  materialism 
and  sensualism,  and  in  its  capacity  for  learning 
and  distinction,  uses  imagination  as  a  torch  wherever 
it  is  useful,  but  never  disparages  the  Inner  Sun  from 
which  all  light  and  heat  proceed  originally." 

1  "  Of  course  the  loss  of  those  nearest  and  dearest 
to  us  has  a  Providential  Use  for  us,  if  we  are  living 
in  the  Way,  the  Truth  and  the  Life.     It  is  fearfully 
and  wonderfully  elevating  to  all  who  take  it  aright ; 
like  the  first  experiences  of  flight  to  a  young  bird, 
when  the  Mother  commands  it  to  have  faith  in  Wing 
and    Air.     Great    things    follow    from    the    human 
faith  ;  among  the  rest,  wings  for  the  mind  to  explore 
the  Spiritual  World  to  which  the  beloved  have  been 
taken." 

2  "  Our  loving  sympathy  is  with  you  in  your  great 
sorrow.     No  consolation  can  make  it  other  than  a 
crown  of  sorrows.     Such  a  husband  taken  from  you 
in  the  height  of  his  years  and  powers,  and  such  a 
life  to  be  filled  on  your  lonely  way  ! 

1  Letter  to  Mr  Tafel  on  the  death  of  his  daughter,  Mrs  Pertz, 
September  15,  1893. 

2  Letter  to  Mrs  Tafel  on  the  death  of  her  husband,  January  11, 
1893. 


220     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

4  With  the  Lord's  help  alone  you  will  be  equal 
to  it ;  and  in  fulfilling  your  years  you  will  find  the 
only  consolation,  until  your  hour  of  Victory  also 
comes,  and  the  heavenly  marriage  is  reached. 

"  His  work  to  our  eyes  looks  broken  off,  but  to 
Providence  this  cannot  be.  He  did  what  he  could 
do,  and  no  other  man  in  the  world  was  equal  to  the 
quantity  and  quality  of  his  achievements  for  the 
New  Church.  In  that  case  he  has  virtually  left 
nothing  undone,  and  in  his  own  line  nothing  that 
wants  doing.  Others  will  be  raised  up  to  continue 
on  the  plains  where  he  left  off  upon  the  mountains. 
And  then  he  is  at  work  above  by  influx,  and  will 
guide  the  choice  of  those  who  will  be  his  successors. 
Let  us  feel  sure  that  the  Lord's  Church  will  not 
suffer  because  one  potent  spirit  more  is  transferred 
to  the  heavenly  side  of  her  Armies." 

COMMERCE 

1  "  Your  Mama  tells  me  that  finds  support 

in  Swedenborg  for  her  view  that  each  country 
should  shut  out  the  fruits  and  produce  of  all  other 
lands.  Almost  anything  can  be  confirmed  out  of  a 
voluminous  writer  by  taking  parts  and  isolating 
them  from  the  general  meaning.  Humanity  also 
is  a  whole,  consisting  of  different  and  distinct  parts 
or  organs.  Some  of  it  is  family-humanity,  some  is 

1  Letters  to  Miss  E.  L.  Pertz,  May  30  and  June,  1889. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  821 

clannish,  some  in  larger  governmental  blocks,  some 
in  great  empires,  some  almost  in  world-empires. 
The  latter  is  the  case  especially  with  Oceanic  England. 
According  to  these  diversities,  communications  exist 
and  are  limited  and  extended.  In  the  family  scale, 
at  the  bottom  of  '  civilization,'  people  kill  their 
own  sheep,  if  they  have  any,  and  make  their  own 
candles,  in  that  case,  etc.,  etc.,  etc.  All  these 
things  are  profoundly  traditional.  But  none  of 
this  is  a  rule  for  any  other  organic  Society.  The 
people  of  the  heart,  which  lives  in  the  widest  circula- 
tion of  goods,  are  not  to  be  measured  by  the  people 
of  the  bones,  which  want  to  be  still.  The  people 
of  the  brains,  which  live  in  thought  and  will,  are  not 
to  be  measured  by  the  limbs,  which  exist  to  be 
governed. 

"  But  enough  of  this.  Swedenborg's  doctrine 
here  is  that  the  people  of  this  earth  are  fundamentally 
commercial,  or  existing  and  flourishing  in  the  inter- 
change of  commodities  between  all  countries  ;  so 
that  each  may  have  what  all  has.  The  Reason  is, 
that  this  Earth  belongs  to  the  general  skin  in  the 
Grand  Man  ;  which  skin  is  the  universal  covering, 
everywhere  communicating  with  itself.  And  on 
this  function  depends  the  production  of  the  external 
Word,  and  the  Incarnation  itself.  The  externality 
of  the  mind  of  this  earth  made  it  possible  that  the 
Word  could  be  written  here  in  this  end  and  terminus 
of  creation ;  and  that  the  Lord  might  be  then 


JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

communicated  in  the  Spiritual  World  to  the  entire 
universe.  I  send  you  the  Book  in  which  you  will 
find  this.  .  .  . 

"  As  to  commerce,  I  should  like  to  see  any  of 
Mr  Mill's  papers  on  his  view  of  the  subject.  Com- 
merce is  as  irremovable  as  human  Society  on  this 
earth  is.  So  there  is  no  call  to  defend  it.  The  pillars 
of  our  mankind  rest  upon  it.  But,  for  the  sake  of 
dear  individual  minds,  it  is  important  not  to  accept 
fallacies,  or  to  confirm  them  into  falsities,  for  fallacies 
dwarf  the  mind,  and  falsities  pervert  it. 

"  No  view  against  Commerce  itself  can  be  re- 
conciled with  Christianity.  The  perversions  of  it 
require  the  acknowledgment  of  the  good  of  it,  and 
they  are  to  be  dominated  by  the  new  conscience, 
and  commerce  is  to  be  thus  regenerated.  But,  for 
the  rest,  it  is  no  worse  than  the  Church  and  State, 
Medicine,  Law,  Trade,  Artizanship,  and  every  other 
department  of  Life.  The  whole  head  is  sick,  and 
the  whole  heart  faint,  not  commerce  alone.  All 
demand  the  new  daily  Duty-doing. 

"  If  all  the  dates  in  Biskra  could  be  the  unquestioned 
property  of  the  poor  Arabs  and  Negroes,  the  result 
would  be  that  they  would  sink  under  the  glut  and 
gluttony  of  the  goods,  and  next  year  there  would  be 
no  Date-palms  left.  So  of  every  other  place  and 
property  where  non-proprietors  came  into  possession 
of  what  is  not  their  own.  The  thing  itself,  the 
property,  would  cease.  The  world  requires  Self- 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN 

interest  to  carry  it  on,  until  human-love-interest 
comes.  And  self-interest,  with  its  fore-sights,  does 
not  exist  in  the  lowest  classes  anywhere.  As 
commerce  is  a  divinely  permitted  necessity  for  this 
earth,  so  no  final  race  here  can  have  its  perfect 
bodily  development  without  a  table  temperately 
set  out  with  the  fruits  and  meats  of  all  the  climates 
from  the  pole  to  the  pole. 

"  My  hand  is  shaky  in  my  78th  year,  but  I  want 
to  say  the  truth,  that  truth  may  come  and  be  done. 

"  Finally,  I  hope  you  will  daily  enjoy  all  the 
fruits  you  can,  and  some  of  the  wines." 

DOCTRINE  OF  SUCCESSIVE  REVELATIONS  l 

"  I  miss  writing  to  you,  though,  owing  now  to 
feeble  health,  I  am  deficient  in  energy,  though  warm 
in  will.  But  Christmas  reinforces  love  with  an 
external  command.  .  .  . 

"  There  is  little  for  me  to  record.  I  am  still 
trying  a  little  work  in  writing,2  now  an  Egyptian 
theme,  perhaps  nameable  as  Egypt  Scriptural  and 
Egypt  Monumental.  As  I  emerge  from  my  weak- 
ness, I  look  forward  to  continuing  this  attempt  to 
introduce  a  Spirit  from  the  Word  into  the  dead  body 
of  Egyptology.  The  subject  may  open  into  interest : 
for  the  students  of  the  hieroglyphics  and  the  tombs 
and  temples  never  think  that  there  is  any  connexion 

1  Letter  to  Mr  John  Thomson,  December  22,  1898. 

2  Isis  and  Osiris,  etc. 


JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

but  a  fabulous  one  between  the  detailed  Biblical 
Revelation  and  the  so-called  history  of  the  Pharaohs. 
I  know  you  like  to  hear  of  my  small  ventures. 

''  The  demolition  of  the  Dervishes  is  agreeable  to 
my  apprehension.  The  worst  of  them  have  been 
received  into  the  Spiritual  world  where  there  is 
skill  to  treat  them.  The  rest  will  make  excellent 
soldiers  and  men  of  duty  for  the  British  and  Irish 
Chain,  one  Day  to  become  golden  and  impearled 
round  the  neck  of  Africa." 

THE  DOCTRINE  OF  SUCCESSIVE  REVELATIONS  1 

"  You  told  me  on  Thursday  that  it  was  believed 
among  your  countrymen  in  Vej  that  the  gift  of 
singing  among  them  was  suggested  and  imitated 
from  the  songs  and  notes  of  birds. 

"  It  may  interest  you  to  read  the  following  rough 
translation  from  the  poem  '  De  Rerum  Natura '  of 
Lucretius.  '  Imitating  the  liquid  notes  of  birds  by 
the  mouth  came  long  before  the  time  when  men 
were  able  to  chant  their  slender  ditties  as  songs, 
and  to  please  the  ears.  Moreover  the  sighs  of  the 
West  Wind,  Zephyrus,  through  the  hollows  of  reeds, 
first  taught  these  countrymen  to  blow  their  hemlock 
flutes.  Then,  little  by  little,  they  learnt  the  dulcet 
means  which  the  pipe  pours  forth  to  the  play  of  the 
fingers  of  the  singer ;  the  pipe,  abundant  through- 
out the  pathless  groves,  and  woods  and  forest  slopes, 

1  Letter  to  Prince  Momolu  Massaquoi,  September  15,  1894. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  225 

the  solitary  places  and  divine  houses  of  the  shep- 
herds "  (Book  v.  1379-1387). 

"  The  earliest  age,  the  pre- Adamite,  was  not  savage, 
but  in  "  the  innocence  of  ignorance."  It  had  no 
bad  inheritance  in  it  to  lame  its  nature.  The  men 
and  women  had  Freewill,  and,  though  designed  for 
elevation  to  the  celestial  state  called  Adam,  they 
could  stop  if  they  chose  at  any  earlier  state.  Some 
did  so  stop ;  and  are  now  probably  the  Cave-men ; 
so  called  Aborigines,  but  of  many  kinds.  However, 
all  were  then  gifted  of  human  faculties,  and  at  first 
learnt  nothing  from  birds  and  from  Zephyr. 

"  In  later  stages,  indeed,  man,  a  different  creature, 
has  learnt  from  outward  nature,  in  fact,  learns  every- 
thing from  without.  But,  in  the  beginning  nature 
was  a  correspondential  image  and  shadow  of  him  and 
from  his  summit  he  saw  through  its  veil,  and  gave 
their  acceptable  symbolic  names  to  all  living  things. 

"  Lucretius  represents  the  Savage  Man,  and  mistakes 
him  for  the  primeval  man.  The  best  of  your  race, 
the  African,  represent  the  Remains  of  the  Adamic 
Race,  but  not  of  the  Adamic  Church,  which  perished. 

"  The  doctrine  of  successive  Churches  or  Revela- 
tions is  thus  all-important  to  the  understanding  of 
Swedenborg.  These  Churches  are  in  a  series,  one 
after  another,  and  are  "  the  ways  of  God  to  Man." 
They  are  what  the  Greek  Testament  calls  JSons. 
When  they  are  comprehended  in  their  order,  Revela- 
tion can  become  Theology." 


226     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

PANTHEISM 

1  "  Are  you  Channing's  critic  in  the  '  Spirit  of  the 
Age  ?  '     Right  or  wrong,  Channing  seems  to  have 
vibrated   back   pretty   entirely   into   a  respectable 
Anglo-Saxon  Arianism,  purged  of  the  very  essence 
of  the  French   socialist.     I   am  not  prepared   to 
offer  any  verdict,  except  on  one  point :  I  must  say 
on  that,  that  it  appeals  to  me  that  Fourier  least  of 
all  men  deserves  the  title  of  a  Pantheist.    There  are 
no  religious   doctrines  to  be  found  in  him  worth 
notice,  and  what  little  he  has  said  theologically  I 
could  have   wished  he  had  let   alone.    But  then 
observe  the  hypothesis  upon  which  he  has  worked 
the  problems  of  existence.     It  is  a  distinctly  Anthro- 
pomorphic Hypothesis  :  a  position  that  God's  works 
can  be  interpreted  by  man,  because  they  are  like 
man's  works,  and  interpreted  by  man's  mind  because 
it  is  like  God's  mind.    All  that  immensely  reaching 
genius  to  which  the  universe  lies  so  coloured  and  so 
subject  consists  in  his  implicit  belief  in  some  axiom 
of  the  Manhood  of  God.    It  is  this  which  makes  him 
give   feeling   and    quasi-feeling    to    planets,    suns, 
vegetables  and  minerals.    It  is  this  which  causes 
him  to  treat  the  universe  as  a  vast  common-sense 
house,  full  of  utensils  for  human-like  wants  and 
purposes.    It  is  this  which  enables  him,  from  a  new 
altitude    of    scornful    benevolence,    to    call    down 

1  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  James,  December  27j  1849. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN 

thunders  upon  the  impenetrability  and  impossibility 
which  the  recent  generations  have  been  building 
up  everywhere.  It  is  this  which  gives  him  hope, 
faith,  love  and  science.  In  short,  if  he  has  not 
made  use  of  a  Personal  God  theologically,  he  has 
at  least  never  ceased  to  employ  Him  algebraically, 
as  the  only  cypher  which  can  work  the  unknown 
into  the  known  and  present  us  with  the  universe 
as  a  patent  quantity  at  last.  Now,  God  cannot  be 
too  present  in  all  thought,  and  it  is  a  peculiar  glory 
of  Fourier  that  he  has  introduced  Him  personally  as 
the  x  of  his  vast  mathematics  :  the  x  itself  having 
all  the  benefit  of  a  cypher,  at  the  same  time  that 
it  is  itself,  by  illustration  from  the  human  mind, 
the  very  plainest  of  substances.  These  thoughts 
flitted  through  me  when  I  read  the  well-ordered 
dispute  between  Channing  and  his  critic. 

"  On  the  other  hand,  I  suspect  that  our  Arians  do 
not  themselves  hold  the  Personality  so  strongly  as 
Fourier  did,  and  that  they  separate  it  at  a  certain 
altitude  from  the  Humanity,  when,  it  seems  to  me, 
the  Personality  perishes." 

HELL'S  TORMENTS  l 

"  I  think  there  is  an  error  in  your  last  about  the 
signification  of  '  the  worm  that  never  dies.'  You 
seem  to  think  that  it  signifies  '  a  troubled  conscience  ' 

1  Letter  to  Miss  Marsh,  November  13,  1838. 


JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

and  that  the  evil  in  a  future  life  have  this  troubled 
conscience.  To  me  this  would,  I  confess,  be  a  very 
unpleasant  belief,  because  I  see  no  reason  why  a 
created  being  should  be  kept  in  a  continual  state  of 
self-reproach,  without  being  able  to  practise  self- 
amendment.  It  rather  seems  to  me  that  the  exist- 
ence of  a  troubled  conscience  shews  a  certain  interior 
love  of  the  good  and  horror  of  the  evil.  But  the 
testimony  of  Swedenborg  is  quite  conclusive  on  the 
point.  He  asserts  that  the  pains  of  conscience 
form  no  part  of  the  pains  of  Hell — for,  says  he,  in  the 
1st  Vol.  A.  C.  those  who  are  there,  '  have  no  con- 
sciences.' They  have  in  fact  no  repentance,  no 
remorse,  no  sorrow  for  sin  of  any  kind  whatever. 
And  the  reason  is  plain,  that  in  their  final  state 
(which  thus  even  to  them  is  a  rest\  the  adventitious 
goodness  or  truth,  which  dwelt  in  their  outer  mind 
is  quite  removed  and  they  are  nothing  but  evil  and 
falsity — nay,  Swedenborg  says  they  themselves  '  are 
evils  and  falsities.'  Now  the  existence  of  conscience 
of  course  depends  upon  the  co-existence  of  two 
contrary  elements  in  the  soul,  but  in  the  other  state 
the  one  element  is  taken  away,  and  the  other  be- 
comes all-ruling.  Let  it  not  however  be  therefore 
supposed  that  the  New  Church  doctrine  diminishes 
the  terrors  of  Hell.  The  real  question  is,  does  it 
make  evil  more  or  less  terrible  to  you  and  to  me 
than  it  was  before ;  for  evil  and  the  false  are  the 
only  terribles  of  Hell.  I  believe  it  makes  it  in- 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  229 

finitely  more  so.  I  should  then  say  that  the  true 
torment  consists  in  the  loves  of  evil  themselves  ; 
for  these  loves  being  finite  and  most  selfish  burn 
to  be  gratified  by  universal  dominion,  but  being 
checked  and  limited  necessarily  by  each  other  what 
a  source  of  disappointed  misery  is  here !  Self,  in 
its  efforts  to  destroy  other  selfs,  which  efforts  are 
perpetually  resisted,  and  tend  therefore  to  narrow 
and  compress  itself — this  self  is  the  worm  which 
never  dies.  It  might  also  be  said  that  each  of  the 
cupidities  of  the  natural  man  is  that  worm ;  in  each 
of  them  there  is  the  desire  of  universal  dominion, 
and  as  this  cannot  be,  each  is,  by  its  nature,  weak 
and  miserable." 


CONDITIONS  FOR  UNDERSTANDING  SPIRITUAL 
PROGRESS 1 

"  I  think  I  do  recollect  once  saying  that  to  under- 
stand the  Arcana  C.  it  was  necessary  we  should 
have  gone  through  the  states  therein  unfolded : 
and  I  cannot  help  yet  thinking  it  must  be  so.  I 
do  not  see  how  by  this  remark  my  Emmy  or  anyone 
else  is  debarred  from  improvement :  for  is  not  our 
Lord  continually  leading  us  through  new  states  of 
spiritual  being,  and  do  we  not  find  ourselves  then 
conscious  of  truths  which  were  before  unknown, 
which  before  could  not  be  known  ?  for  then  we  had 

1  Letter  to  Miss  Marsh,  October  9,  1838. 


230     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

not  the  faculties  which  discern  them :  I  think  it 
manifest  that  if  a  thing  has  happened  to  ourselves 
we  can  far  better  understand  a  description  of  it, 
and  this  is  even  more  applicable  in  spiritual  things, 
where  each  state  is  quite  new,  and  perhaps  quite 
unlike  all  other  states  and  so  not  to  be  comprehended 
by  them.  In  fact  I  might  say  that  each  state  ta 
be  seen  requires  a  separate  eye  or  faculty  of  seeing. 
And  whenever  a  new  state  of  our  being  is  unfolded 
there  is  more  or  less  self-consciousness  of  it,  which 
is  its  eye,  and  in  this  self-consciousness,  after  all,  is 
contained  all  the  knowledge  we  have  of  metaphysics 
or  philosophy  as  realities  in  ourselves.  But  it  so 
happens,  that  no  man  is  conscious  of  all  or  even  of 
a  very  small  part  of  what  is  transacted  in  his  interior 
man,  though  no  doubt  this  consciousness  will  be 
greatly  increased,  and  in  proportion  as  men  become 
more  unselfish,  they  will  become  larger  selves.  Now, 
the  Arcana  gives  all  that  can  be  told  in  natural 
language  both  of  those  changes  of  which  we  are, 
and  those  of  which  we  are  not  (but  may  one  day)  be 
conscious,  and  therefore  I  think  it  is  pretty  clear 
that  our  real  knowledge  of  the  internal  things  of 
that  book  must  be  gradually  produced  by  the  gradual 
development  and  self-consciousness  of  the  internal 
man.  It  will  then  be  a  description  of  what  men  are. 
Then  indeed  things,  which  no  patience  of  hammering 
investigation  could  beat  out,  will  be  quite  easily 
seen  and  affirmed  as  true  of  ourselves — as  truths- 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  Ml 

In  ourselves,  which  are  substantial  and  self-evident 
only.  But,  at  present  the  Book  describes  of  the 
internal  man  much  of  which  the  interior  of  the  men 
of  this  dark  age  are  not  composed,  so  that  they  can 
have  no  self-consciousness  of  it — and  their  knowledge 
must  be  nothing  more  than  the  knowledge  of  certain 
sayings  in  a  certain  book  ;  of  which  it  may  be  clearly 
known  what  is  said,  but  what  it  means  in  reference 
to  them,  or  in  other  words,  what  it  is,  must  be  quite 
unknown." 


THE  SPIRITUAL  IMPORTANCE  OF  HUMBLE  DUTIES  x 

"Did  you  read  through  the  first  Vol.  of  the  Arc. 
Coel.  ?  I  am  truly  glad  that  you  feel  such  a  deep 
interest  in  the  writings  of  Swedenborg,  and  I  am 
sure  we  shall  always  find  them  not  only  a  solid 
support  in  all  the  situations  of  grave  and  active  life, 
but  also  a  delightful  recreation  of  the  mind  and  the 
affections  in  converse  on  evenings  when  worldly 
care  is  excluded,  and  when  other  religions  are  also 
generally  shut  out,  in  order  that  they  may  not  hurt 
the  cheerfulness  of  the  occasion ;  but  it  is  a  peculi- 
arity of  ours  that  it  is  our  rule  of  conduct  in  the 
world,  our  guide  from  the  world  to  the  regions  of 
abstract  reason,  and  spiritual  beauty,  and  even 
the  life  and  soul  of  liveliness  with  the  lively,  pro- 
vided they  be  cheerful  from  a  godly,  and  therefore 

1  Letter  to  Miss  Marsh,  September  4,  1837. 


232     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

truly  human  ground.  May  our  Lord  Jesus  be  with 
us  and  in  us  and  apply  divine  truths  to  the  purifica- 
tion and  ordination  of  every  act  of  our  lives  !  I 
believe  that  there  is  no  act,  however  degraded  in  its 
outward  form,  which  may  not  contain  within  it  a 
Spiritual  beauty  which  is  ineffable :  because  every 
deed  of  man  contains  his  will,  and  there  may  be 
heavenly  motives  involved  in  doing  the  minutest 
thing.  Every  act  done  because  it  is  a  duty  to  God 
and  His  church  to  do  it,  is  beautiful  above  language 
and  conception;  and  the  real  delight  of  it  is  that 
stream  of  living  waters  in  which  the  good  live,  when 
the  natural  part  of  them  is  happily  removed  forever. 
Now,  pray,  dear  Girl,  as  no  principle  of  philosophy  is 
worth  a  pin,  which  does  not  illustrate  common  or 
real  life  in  the  world,  look  at  the  consequences  of 
this  principle  as  applied  to  many  vile  and  degraded 
trades  and  callings.  Recollect  that  nothing  can  be 
done  which  may  not  be  done  from  a  heavenly  motive. 
Recollect  that  if  a  barber  crops  the  hair  in  the  best 
manner  because  it  is  his  duty ;  because  it  is  his 
religion  to  do  the  least  thing  with  all  his  will,  such 
man  really  does  an  act  which  contains  within  it 
Love  to  God  and  love  to  his  neighbour ;  all  the 
6  Law  and  the  Prophets '  are  involved  in  every 
such  deed,  and  so  it  is  shown  that  in  this  common 
and  disregarded  employ  there  may  be  something 
really  Divine  !  Tis  true  'tis  not  felt  as  such  by  the 
man  then,  but  still  whatever  is  contained  in  an  act, 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN 

the  Divine  Goodness  can  evolve  out  of  it,  and  there- 
fore in  the  world  of  the  Spirit,  when  the  act  has 
long  ceased,  or  rather  where  it  never  was,  the  Divinity 
and  true  dignity  of  the  motive,  of  the  will,  is  all  that 
is  felt  and  seen,  and  then  the  exaltation  and  enjoy- 
ment are  transcendent  and  ineffable." 


SWEDENBORG'S  WRITINGS1 

"  On  Saturday  I  dined  with  Mr  Coxe,  at  his  office 
in  the  City,  and  saw  there  the  manuscript  of  the 
'Apocalypsis  Explicata,'  three  quarto  volumes  in 
the  Author's  own  writing.  You  may  guess  how 
small  and  compact  the  writing  is  by  the  fact  that 
his  three  volumes  of  manuscript  print  into  four 
volumes  !  The  writing  is  very  beautiful  and  ex- 
tremely legible.  I  took  the  trouble  after  dinner 
to  make  a  facsimile  of  a  short  paragraph  with  the 
style  and  tracing  paper,  so  that  I  have  got  it  very 
exact  indeed." 

2  "  I  am  very  glad  you  did  not  commence  reading 
the  '  Apocalypse  Revealed ' ;  for,  although  it  is 
truly  a  wonderful  book,  I  do  feel  that  it  is  the  most 
severe  and  dry  piece  of  reading  I  ever  took  up. 
I  have  nearly  finished  the  first  volume,  which  I 
consider  conclusive  of  the  fact  that  there  is  an 
internal  sense  in  the  Scriptures  of  which  the  writer 

1  Letter  to  Miss  Marsh,  August  27,  1839. 

2  Letter  to  Miss  Marsh,  undated. 


234     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

was  cognizant,  but  still  I  only  finish  the  book  as  a 
question  of  evidence.  ...  I  conceive  that  Sweden- 
borg's  book  on  '  The  Last  Judgment '  ought  to  be 
read  before  it,  in  order  to  make  people  in  some  way 
acquainted  with  the  subject  treated  of.  I  should 
tell  you  that  I  am  reading  it  out  of  a  musty  old 
translation  printed  in  Manchester.  The  very  sight 
of  the  book  is  repulsive,  so  I  approach  it  under  all 
sorts  of  disadvantages.  I  think  that  a  new  edition 
on  good  paper  would  have  much  assisted  me,  and 
ministered  a  delight  to  the  senses,  which  is  not  to 
be  despised  as  an  assistance  to  the  soul." 

SWEDENBORG  AND   MATRIMONY  l 

"  On  Sunday  I  dined  at  Mr  Tulk's  and  spent  a 
very  pleasant  day.  Mr  Tulk  read  me  a  portion  of 
a  work  he  is  writing  on  the  Lord's  Prayer.  He  also 
told  me  a  very  curious  anecdote  of  Swedenborg. 
On  what  authority  it  rests,  I  know  not,  but  as  it 
was  told  me  I  tell  it.  Someone  asked  Swedenborg 
why  he  had  never  married.  He  replied  either  '  that 
he  was  married '  or  that  c  he  had  seen  his  future 
wife  in  the  spiritual  world.'  He  also  named  her  and 
said  she  was  a  Countess  Gildenberg." 2 

1  Letter  to  Miss  Marsh,  September  24, 1839. 

2  Swedenborg's  first  love  and  its  disappointment  are  related  in 
Wilkinson's    "  Emanuel   Swedenborg"    (pp.    14-15   and   250,   261) 
te  With  regard  to  his  first  and  only  love,  Emerentia  Polhen,  Sweden- 
borg in  his  old   age,  as   Tybeck   relates,   assured   the   daughters 
and  sons-in-law  of  the  former  object  of  his  affection,  as  they  visited 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  235 

SWEDENBORG'S  MANUSCRIPT  l 

"  I  am  now  writing  an  Introduction  to  the  '  Hiero- 
glyphic Key,'  in  which,  in  very  brief,  I  shall  attempt 
to  touch  upon  the  Science  of  Correspondences  in  its 
serial  aspect :  as  a  manifold,  and  not  a  simple  or 
(what  is  the  same  thing),  an  occult  science.  For  a 
manifold  science  involves  the  idea  of  love,  reconcilia- 
tion of  parts,  charity ;  whereas  a  simplistic  science 
is  haughty,  high  and  reserved." 

SWEDENBORG'S  CHEMISTRY  2 

"  '  The  Principles  of  Chemistry '  is  a  rare  book,  and 
only  to  be  had  either  by  advertising  for  it  as  wanted, 
say  in  Morning  Light,  or  by  giving  Mr  Speirs  a 
commission  to  get  it. 

"  May  I  briefly  remark  that  you  cannot,  by 
following  modern  science,  enter  Swedenborg's  track. 
This  is  nowhere  more  shewn  than  in  Chemistry. 
The  end  and  use  of  modern  chemistry  is  analytic 
knowledge  of  substances,  whether  for  manufacturing 
purposes,  or  for  exploration  of  nature.  The  quest 
is  for  primitive  substances ;  and  when  these  are 

him  in  his  garden,  that  he  could  converse  with  their  departed 
mother  whenever  he  pleased."  It  was  told  us  by  the  late  Mr  Charles 
Augustus  Tulk,  hut  we  have  no  document  for  it,  that  our  author 
used  to  say  that  he  had  seen  his  allotted  wife  in  the  spiritual  world, 
who  was  waiting  for  him,  and  under  her  mortal  name  had  been  a. 
Countess  Gyllenborg  (*tc)." 

1  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  James,  September  18,  1847. 

2  Letter  to  Mr  John  Marten,  March  19,  1896. 


236     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

found,  their  combination  or  synthesis  comes.  The 
laws  of  this  are  greatly  investigated. 

"  Swedenborg's  was  another  Chemistry,  of  in- 
violate forms,  with  properties  from  the  forms ;  as 
man  and  woman  have  properties  from  their  forms  : 
and  there  are  no  simple  substances.  Simple  sub- 
stances are  the  ultimates  of  destruction  :  atoms  you 
can't  cut.  Swedenborg's  Forms  are  simple  or  com- 
pound functions,  which  must  be  maintained  in  the 
Theory,  because  they  are  mineral-organic.  The 
bed  of  all  this  is  Geometry  actuated,  in  each  case, 
by  a  central  particular  fire. 

"  Beware  of  dismissing  Light  from  your  view  of 
nature.  Energy  won't  supply  its  place.  Light  and 
Heat  are  the  unchangeable  representants  and  corres- 
pondences of  Love  and  Wisdom,  divine." 


EMERSON'S  "  SWEDENBORG  OR  THE  MYSTIC  " *• 

"  I  am  much  your  debtor  for  a  copy  of  your 
Poems  transmitted  to  me  by  your  London  Publisher, 
and  from  which  I  have  derived  health  and  pleasure. 
I  know  of  no  writer  equal  to  you  for  transporting 
the  denizen  of  the  city  spiritually  into  the  country, 
and  giving  him  the  benefit  of  '  that  liberty,  the 
air,'  together  with  a  thousand  other  needed  en- 
franchisements. But  I  dare  not  attempt  to  criticize 
you.  One  thing,  however,  strikes  me  profoundly, 

1  Letter  to  Mr  R.  W.  Emerson,  March  1,  1841. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  237 

and  I  do  not  see  any  of  your  critics  notice  it :  I  mean 
your  profound  poetical  analysis  of  natural  and 
scientific  truth.  For  instance,  how  sharply  yet 
largely  true  your  recount  of  the  physiology  of  the 
loving  eye  in  that  Poem  entitled  6  Initial  Love.' l 

"  But  I  must  not  trust  myself  to  say  more  for  fear 
I  should  awkwardly  be  paying  you  some  intended 
compliment  from  which  you  might  shrink  with 
dislike. 

"  Although  you  state  that  your  Swedenborgian 
shelves  are  full,  I  have  ventured  still  to  send  through 
Mr  Clapp  a  thin  volume  of  the  same  series,  hoping 
that  you  will  gently  squeeze  it  into  a  place  among 
the  rest.  .  .  . 

"  Is  your  lecture  on  Swedenborg  published  yet  ? 
If  not,  and  if  it  is  to  appear  as  Copyright  in  England, 
might  I  suggest  that,  were  it  to  be  issued  per  se, 
it  would  probably  command  a  very  extensive  sale 
among  the  readers  of  that  Author  in  this  country. 

1 ' f  Leave  his  weeds  and  heed  his  eyes, — 
All  the  rest  he  can  disguise. 
In  the  pit  of  his  eyes  a  spark 
Would  bring  back  day  if  it  were  dark  ; 
And,  if  I  tell  you  all  my  thought, 
Though  I  comprehend  it  not, 
In  those  unfathomable  orbs, 
Every  function  he  absorbs. 
He  doth  eat,  and  drink,  and  fish,  and  shoot, 
And  write,  and  reason,  and  compute, 
And  ride,  and  run,  and  have,  and  hold, 
And  whine,  and  flatter,  and  regret, 
And  kiss  and  couple  and  beget, 
By  those  roving  eyeballs  bold." 


238     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

I  should  be  happy  to  do  all  I  could  to  commend  it 
to  a  large  audience." 


SWEDENBORG'S  "  HEAVEN  AND  HELL  "  TRANSLATED 
INTO  ICELANDIC1 

"  DEAR  DR  WILKINSON, — I  beg  to  acknowledge 
the  receipt  of  your  letter  enclosing  two  others  from 
your  Icelandic  friend.  I  will  take  the  first  oppor- 
tunity of  forwarding  them  to  the  Repository  and 
obtain  their  insertion  in  the  next  number,  if  it  be 
not  at  present  too  late  ;  or  if  it  be,  they  can  appear 
in  the  number  for  November. 

"  I  have  no  doubt  the  Committee  of  the  Swedenborg 
Society  will  be  rejoiced  to  receive  the  glad  tidings 
they  contain,  and,  for  myself,  I  cannot  but  feel 
most  humbly  thankful  to  Divine  Providence  for 
such  a  result. 

"  I  do  not  know  when  the  Committee  next  meet, 
but  if  you  have  any  proposition  to  make  with  respeet 
to  the  translation  into  Icelandic  of  the  '  Heaven 
and  Hell,'  I  have  no  doubt  of  its  favourable  reception 
by  the  Committee  and  the  necessary  funds  being 
provided. 

"If  your  mind  is  made  up  on  this  subject,  I 
would  suggest  your  writing  a  letter  to  me,  as  you 
did  before,  giving  some  idea  of  the  amount  of  the 
funds  and  the  time  required,  and  engaging,  as  you 

1  Letter  from  the  Rev.  Augustus  Clissold,  September  11, 1871. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN  239 

were  kind  enough  to  do  before,  that  the  translation 
into  Icelandic  shall  be  a  faithful  one.  This  letter 
I  will  then  lay  before  the  Committee,  and  I  feel 
sure  they  will  be  ready  to  carry  out  your  wishes 
and  those  of  the  Icelanders. — I  am,  dear  sir,  yours 
very  truly,  "  AUGUSTUS  CLISSOLD." 

The  translation  was  duly  preformed  by  Mr  Ion 
a  Hjaltalin. 

CATHOLICITY  l 

"  This  morning's  paper  contains  Cardinal  Newman's 
Address,  on  his  reception  of  the  Purple.  It  is 
Liberalism  in  Religion.  A  great  deal  that  he  says 
is  too  true ;  but  the  error  of  Sect  cannot  be  cured 
by  adopting  Rome,  which  is  the  Sect  of  Sects  ;  and 
her  apostacy  the  cause  of  the  divisions  in  Christendom 
and  of  the  great  gulf  in  it,  on  the  other  side  of  which 
stands  the  bold  Realm  of  Infidelity.  Unitary  Truth 
from  Love,  which  can  only  come  by  a  new  Dispensa- 
tion from  the  Lord,  is  the  only  Oneness  that  is  needed 
— or  possible." 

DR  LIVINGSTONE  2 

"  Dr  Livingstone  entered  the  spiritual  world  on 
the  15th  of  last  August.  What  a  strange  fire  of 
adventure  possessed  him,  to  spend  all  his  old  days  in 

1  Letter  to  Mrs  Wilkinson,  May  13,  1879. 

2  Letter  to  Mrs  Wilkinson,  January  28,  1874. 


240     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

battling  with  swamp  and  wood  and  wilderness  after 
Geographical  Truth  !  It  seems  an  outre  genius  ;  and 
yet,  if  he  was  commissioned  from  within  as  the 
pioneer  of  African  progress,  so  great  an  end  elevates 
his  direful  wanderings  into  a  religious  life.  Peace 
be  with  him  now  !  " 

INFLUX  l 

"I  have  just  finished  'Barnaby  Rudge,'  and  a 
wonderful  book  it  is.  How  the  new  Light  and  Love 
shine  in  it,  and  how  the  new  Spiritual  Power  stoops 
down  in  it,  and  almost  makes  itself  manifest  for 
what  it  is  !  Influx — influx  is  given  to  men  as  it 
was  not  given  before." 

NIAGARA  2 

"  Let  me  say  in  these  hurried  words  that  Niagara, 
mighty  and  perpetual,  suggests  to  me  even  more 
(in  this  mood  of  mine)  than  it  shows  to  me.  It  even 
partly  lulls  and  partly  stuns  me  into  sleep  about  its 
enormous  self.  And  I  think  of  what  the  Descent  of 
things  is  ;  of  the  Architecture  that  descends  ;  of 
the  Holy  City,  New  Jerusalem  ;  and  in  the  immense 
rainbows  that  span  the  heaven  over  the  Falls  here ; 
that  lie  mile- wide  on  the  river:  that  shimmer  as 
they  are  fed  by  perpetual  spray  and  mist,  I  remember, 

1  Letter  to  Mrs  Wilkinson,  August  24,  1872. 

2  Letter  to  Mrs  Wilkinson,  September  6,  1869. 


THE  SWEDENBORGIAN 

"  Her  light  was  like  unto  a  stone  most  precious  " : 
and  in  the  Rainbows  dissolved  in  the  air  I  remember 
the  same :  and  in  all,  not  omitting  the  vivid  and 
ever-varied  thunders,  and  the  huge  sperm  and 
beauty  of  ever  new  Form,  I  catch  a  suggestion 
of  that  substantial  River  of  Influx  which  in 
one  little  world  and  small  Voice  is  the  Holy 
Ghost. 

These  are  the  thoughts  I  had  of  Descent ;  very 
different  from  those  of  Mont  Blanc,  or  those  of 
Ascent." 


DARWIN'S  FUNCTIONS  l 

"  I  have  just  finished  '  The  Life  and  Letters  of 
Charles  Darwin,'  by  his  son.  Mistaken,  as  I  believe 
he  was,  in  discarding  Revelation,  and  rejecting  Deity 
because  he  could  not  find  Him  out  to  perfection, 
the  life  of  the  man  leads  me  to  think  that  there  was 
a  providential  purpose  worked  out  by  his  permitted 
wilfulness.  One  end  seems  to  be  that  he  brought  the 
whole  mind  of  Europe  down  to  consider  facts,  and 
on  them  to  crucify  Dogmas.  Had  he  understood  the 
'  Doctrine  of  Uses,'  as  coming  from  above,  he  would 
have  begun  a  great  fabric :  but  he  would  not  have 
done  what  he  has  done,  and  the  opposing  Ecclesiasms 
would  have  resisted,  which  they  are  not  now  doing. 
He  has  contributed  to  their  death. 

1  Letter  to  Mr  John  Thomson,  September  25,  1895. 
Q 


JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

FICTION  l 

"  What  you  say  of  Novels  and  their  retreat  into 
unlocked  for  Uses  I  heartily  endorse.  Without 
profanity,  by  fictional  stories,  everything  in  the 
sensual  mind  can  be  freely  talked  over,  and  anger 
from  dogmas  disappears  where  freedom  reigns  all 
round.  The  word  6  Agnostic '  is  for  this  reason  better 
than  '  Atheist,'  because  its  venom  is  withdrawn 
in  its  novelty  of  possibly  pleaded  harmlessness. 

"  Have  you,  in  the  New  Church  Magazine  for 
July,  seen  my  review  of  Richard  Whiteing's  '  Number 
5  John  Street '  ?  He  writes  me  that  of  the  seventy 
great  reviews  he  has  had  in  the  press  of  Great  Britain 
and  America  my  interpretation  has  given  him  more 
thought  than  all  the  rest,  and  that  he  keeps  it  by 
him  to  study  it.  ... 2 

"  I  am  rather  tired  now,  after  my  four  months' 
prayer,  to  be  helped  in  my  "  Isis  and  Osiris  in  the 
Book  of  Respirations."  For  fifty  years  I  have  been 
on  this  theme  in  its  general  application  of  Breath- 
ing. Now  I  have  been  enabled  to  converse  with  it 
in  most  special  embraces." 

1  Letter  to  the  Rev.  P.  Melville,  B.D.,  September  25,  1899. 

2  On  March  28  of  the  same  year,  Wilkinson  wrote  to  Dr  Melville : 
"  I  am  not  going  on  with  my  little  Essay  on  the  Egypt  of  Corre- 
spondence.    It  has  been  interrupted  by  a  very  remarkable  Book  by 
Richard  Whiteing,   ' Number  5  John  Street.'     I  have  written  a 
Swedenborgian  View  of  it.     It  deserves  it,  for  it  is  an  inspiration, 
or  refluxion  for  purposes  of  use,  of  the  Hades  within  and  above  us. 
It  may  be  published,  and  if  so  you  shall  see  it.     Mr  Whiteing  is  an 
intimate  friend  of  our  house,  and  he  may  have  been  infected  with  the 
(  Apocalypse  Revealed '  which  I  have  lent  him/' 


CHAPTER  III 

HOMOEOPATHY  AND   KINDRED  DEBATABLE  MATTERS 

WE  have  seen  something  of  Garth  Wilkinson's 
adoption  of  the  practice  of  Homoeopathy  in  the 
chapter  devoted  to  his  life.  It  occupied  so  large 
a  place  in  his  total  of  work  done  that,  in  a  full 
consideration  of  the  man,  it  needs  to  be  treated 
in  more  detail. 

The  credit  of  founding  a  new  method  of  drug- 
selection  in  the  treatment  of  disease  belongs  to 
Samuel  Hahnemann,  who  was  born  in  1755  and  lived 
until  1843.  Possessed  of  at  least  a  double  dose  of 
"  divine  discontent "  with  the  empiric  practice  of 
his  day,  Hahnemann  recognized  the  dual  action  of 
drugs  in  the  contradictory  and  confusing  account 
of  the  effects  of  Cinchona,  as  given  in  a  work  on 
Materia  Medica  which  he  was  engaged  in  translating 
from  English  into  German.  He  investigated  and 
developed  the  idea  thus  presented  to  him  until 
he  established  his  famous  law  Similia  similibus 
curentur.  The  system  of  medicine  based  upon  this 
law  involves  the  proving  of  drugs  upon  healthy 
persons  (Hahnemann's  "  Pure  Materia  Medica  ")  and 
the  use  of  drug-symptoms  thus  developed  as  an  index 

243 


JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

to  the  cure  of  similar  disease-symptoms  observed  in 
the  sick.  As  a  logical  correlative  to  the  system  upon 
which  the  drug  was  chosen,  its  dose  for  the  sick  is 
less  than  that  sufficient  to  produce  its  characteristic 
effects  in  the  healthy  prover. 

Partly  by  reason  of  the  innate  conservatism  of  the 
medical  mind,  partly  through  the  bitter  controversial 
methods  of  its  discoverer,  Homoeopathy  has  laboured 
under  professional  discouragement  from  its  first 
beginning  to  the  present  day.  It  may  claim  to  have 
profoundly  modified  practice :  the  bleeding  lancet 
is  no  longer  to  be  found  in  the  waistcoat  pocket  of 
every  medical  student;  the  significance  of  the 
barber's  pole  and  basin  has  become  a  matter  of 
archaeology ;  the  old  lengthy  and  murderous  pre- 
scription is  almost  extinct ;  drugs  and  doses  intro- 
duced by  Hahnemann  and  his  followers  are  in  daily 
use.  But  the  system  is  far  from  general  recognition ; 
and  those  who  systematically  follow  its  law  are  still 
made  to  remember  that,  though  they  are  in  the 
medical  profession  and  enjoy  such  scanty  privileges 
as  that  profession  bestows,  they  are  far  from  sharing 
its  blood-brotherhood. 

The  introduction  of  Homoeopathy  evoked  a  storm 
of  protest.  The  profit  of  those  who  made  shrines 
in  precious  metals  to  the  old  gods  was  endangered, 
and  those  who  taught  the  new  way  were  threatened 
with  the  magistrate.  Dr  Quin,  who  brought  the 
Hahnemannian  doctrine  and  practice  to  England  in 


HOMOEOPATHY  245 

1837,  found  patients  in  plenty  at  once  and  profes- 
sional followers  more  slowly.  These  latter  had  to 
face  opposition  both  overt  and  covert,  professional 
ostracism  and  outrageous  criticism.  They  were 
knaves  or  fools,  lucky  if  they  escaped  condemnation 
under  both  headings.  If  a  patient  died  under  the 
care  of  one  of  their  number,  it  was  darkly  hinted 
that  a  verdict  of  manslaughter  should  follow.  It 
needed,  therefore,  no  slight  resolution,  no  tepid 
conviction,  in  the  man  who  professed  himself  a 
homoeopath  in  the  early  "  forties."  The  unpopu- 
larity of  a  cause  had,  however,  never  deterred 
Wilkinson  from  espousing  it  for  reason  shown  :  and 
at  the  time  of  his  conversion  he  had  been  long  dis- 
satisfied alike  with  the  ordinary  practice  of  his  pro- 
fession and  his  own  position  therein.  Pitchforked 
into  the  study  of  medicine  by  his  father  when  a  mere 
boy,  sickened  at  the  crude  practice  to  which  he  was 
introduced  in  his  apprenticeship,  he  engaged  in  the 
struggle  for  maintenance  without  any  of  that  timely 
assistance  which  ensures  a  good  beginning  and  goes 
far  to  further,  if  it  cannot  command,  a  prosperous 
career.  It  is  little  wonder  that  the  early  days  of 
Wilkinson's  practice  were  not  marked  either  by 
enthusiasm  on  his  part  or  any  greedy  acceptance 
on  the  part  of  the  patient  public.  The  work  of  a 
general  practitioner  in  the  "  thirties  "  approximated 
much  more  to  that  of  the  chemist  than  is  to-day 
the  case :  he  had  to  recommend  the  copious  con- 


246     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

sumption  of  physic,  for  it  was  from  physic  that  he 
derived  profit.  Wilkinson  was  possessed  of  two 
qualities  incompatible  to  the  foundation  of  a  suc- 
cessful practice  upon  such  lines,  a  conscience  and 
"  a  horror  of  promiscuous  drugging."  His  enthusi- 
asm was  reserved  for  work  in  matters  Swedenborgian, 
and  he  eked  out  what  came  to  him  through  labour 
in  that  capacity  by  means  of  professional  work 
repugnant  alike  to  his  taste  and  his  higher  nature. 
There  is  no  statement  in  his  correspondence  which 
gives  a  date  when  homoeopathy  first  came  under 
Wilkinson's  notice,  but  a  letter  from  a  friend  in 
1844  congratulates  him  on  his  intention  to  investigate 
the  subject.  In  December  of  the  same  year  Wil- 
kinson writes  to  Mr  Henry  James  that  his  only  son 
is  dangerously  ill  with  bronchitis  and  whooping 
cough.  "  We  have  committed  him  to  Homoeopathy, 
and  called  in  Dr  Durnford  who  has  been  very  kind 
in  his  attentions,  although  but  little  marked  im- 
provement has  yet  taken  place."  Two  years  later, 
he  is  found  writing  to  his  absent  wife  of  a  discussion 
with  a  medical  friend  who  "  appeared  in  no  way 
bigoted  against  the  subject."  But  he  gives  a  lively 
and  presumably  accurate  account  of  the  means  by 
which  he  was  brought  to  consider  Hahnemann's 
system  of  treatmemt,  in  "War,  Cholera  and  the 
Ministry  of  Health,"  written  in  1854.  The  pamphlet 
which  perhaps  gives  the  best  example  of  Wilkinson's 
"  early  manner,"  virtually  aimed  at  recommend- 


HOMOEOPATHY  247 

ing    Homoeopathy   to    recognition    by   the    Public 
Services.1 

"  The  fact  is  that  nurses  have  a  great  many  things 
put  upon  them  which  either  ought  to  be  undone,  or 
the  doctors  ought  to  do  them  for  themselves.  Many 
a  medicine  given  to  children  is  so  chokingly  horrible 
that  a  medical  practitioner  ought  to  be  present  to 
count  the  pulse  and  to  watch  the  countenance  ;  just 
as  is  properly  the  case  at  a  military  flogging.  In 
my  old  days  I  have  seen  a  nurse  resign  the  trembling 
spoon  or  cup  to  the  doctor,  and  say  in  the  boldness 
of  humane  terror  :  '  Sir,  give  it  yourself.'  My  own 
conversion  to  homoeopathy  was  attended  with  one 
of  these  experiences.  Our  eldest  child,  a  baby  then, 
was  attacked  in  the  night  with  a  sudden  bronchitis, 
attended  with  great  wheezing  and  oppression.  My 
wife  and  I  sat  on  end  in  bed  in  sanitary  conjugal 
quorum.  I  ordered  ipecacuanha  wine  as  an  emetic, 
and  I  went  downstairs  to  the  surgery  and  fetched  it. 
There  it  stood  by  the  bedside,  and  the  question  was, 
who  should  give  it  ?  My  wife  said  nothing,  and  I 
broke  a  short  silence  by  observing  that  the  medicine 
was  there.  She  then  said  :  c  Well ! '  and  another 
silence  ensued.  I  too  said  '  Well ! '  and  again  we 
were  silent.  At  length  Mrs  W.  said  :  '  What  are 
you  going  to  do  ?  '  I  said  :  c  What  are  you  going 
to  do  ?  "  she  said  she  was  not  going  to  give  the 
child  that  medicine.  I  felt  indignant  in  all  my 

1  "  War,  Cholera  and  the  Ministry  of  Health,"  p.  27,  1854. 


248     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

professional  frame,  and  I  told  her  that  the  ordering 
of  medicine  was  the  doctor's  department,  that  it 
was  the  business  of  mothers  and  nurses  to  give  it. 
She  replied  that  I  was  not  only  doctor  here,  but  also 
father  and  nurse,  and  that  I  must  do  it  or  it  would 
not  be  done ;  and  she  added  also,  that  she  had  no 
faith  in  that  stuff ;  and  furthermore  that  she  was 
glad  now  that  I  had  seen  at  home  what  burdens  were 
daily  laid  on  parents  and  nurses  when  I  went  away 
from  house  to  house,  leaving  such  things  to  be  trans- 
acted between  my  visits.  I  thought  of  the  denuncia- 
tion in  the  Gospel  against  those  who  lay  on  grievous 
burdens,  which  themselves  will  not  touch  with  one 
of  their  fingers  ;  and  I  could  not  but  admire  her 
disobedience.  But  she  did  not  stop  here,  but  told 
me  that  for  long  (she  had  hinted  this  before)  she  had 
felt  a  repugnance  to  my  practice,  and  that  this  very 
occasion  was  sent,  partly  to  oblige  me  to  look  into 
that  new  thing  called  Homoeopathy.  The  upshot 
of  the  particular  case  was  that  my  wife  gave  a  piece 
of  ipecacuanha,  such  as  would  pass  through  the  eye 
of  a  needle,  to  the  child ;  and  a  good  and  homoeo- 
pathic remedy  it  was  ;  after  which,  the  oppression 
of  the  breathing  passed  away.  The  circumstance 
made  an  impression  on  my  mind,  and  I  now  record 
it,  being  sure  as  day  that,  humble  and  simple  as  it 
is,  it  will  leave  a  mark  on  the  minds  of  mothers. 
Think,  then,  mothers,  fathers  and  nurses,  what 
a  blessing  it  is  to  you  to  get  rid  at  one  blow  of  all 


HOMCEOPATHY  249 

these  difficult  and  painful  duties  which  the  old 
practice  enjoins  upon  you !  " 

In  December  1850  he  writes  to  his  father  of 
gradually  introducing  homoeopathy  into  his  practice, 
and  says  that  "  nearly  all  the  little  success  I  have 
enjoyed  has  arisen  from  and  in  the  new  practice." 
In  1852  he  writes  more  strongly  on  the  subject. 

"  My  business  increases  beyond  expectation  :  it 
seems  going  on  rapidly  for  £2000  a  year.  Homoeo- 
pathy, into  which  Emma  compelled  me,  has  for  the 
first  time  caused  me  really  to  love  my  noble  Profes- 
sion. To  me  now  there  is  no  calling  like  it.  It 
brings  down  not  only  riches,  but,  what  is  far  more, 
blessings  upon  him  that  exercises  it  aright ;  and  as 
for  intellectual  advancement,  which  I  have  always 
loved,  I  have  learned  to  be  sure  that  a  man's  own 
business  is  the  finest  school  in  which  his  mind  can 
be  trained.  The  truths  of  Medicine  are,  then,  those 
which  above  all  others  I  pray  God  to  show  me — 
in  order  that  I  may  find  healing  on  their  wings. 

"  Of  course,  with  so  large  a  practice,  I  require 
to  undergo  many  expenses.  .  .  .  But  practice 
increases  far  more  rapidly  than  expense,  and  I  am 
in  great  hopes  of  being  able,  after  this  year,  to  put 
by  something  handsome  for  a  rainy  day. 

"  You  will  not  be  surprised  to  hear  that  I  have  no 
leisure  for  any  avocations  but  those  of  my  profession. 
It  engages  me  morning,  noon  and  night ;  excepting 
on  Sundays,  when  I  never  go  out,  if  I  can  avoid  it. 


250     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

However,  in  the  course  of  my  rides,  I  make  many 
cursory  but  agreeable  studies,  particularly  in  Botany, 
respecting  which  I  cherish  some  designs.  Homoeo- 
pathy  has  led  me  to  the  study  of  the  old  Herbals  of 
various  countries,  and  I  see  in  them  an  unlimited 
extension  of  the  Homoeopathic  medicine.  England 
is  particularly  rich  in  this  kind  of  lore,  and  it  is 
only  to  be  lamented  that  in  our  accredited 
books  of  Botany,  this  really  useful  department 
of  knowledge  of  the  vegetable  world  is  either  left 
out  or  treated  with  contempt.  But  all  things  will 
come  in  time.  At  present  I  am  studying  the 
Mistletoe,  with  a  view  to  its  medical  use." 
In  the  same  year  he  wrote  to  Mr  James  : x 
"  My  life  now  is  for  the  most  part  a  routine. 
Practice  increases  month  by  month ;  and  the  prospects 
of  income  are  good.  The  pleasures  of  skill  also  attend 
me,  whenever  God  gives  any  of  the  skill.  What  is 
best,  I  take  a  leading  interest  in  my  dear  Medicine, 
and  especially  in  Homoeopathy :  and  I  reckon  myself 
truly  fortunate  to  be  able  at  length  to  connect  my 
mind  to  my  daily  work ;  and  to  see  in  the  latter  a 
most  ample  field  for  the  exercise  of  my  thoughts. 
I  am  even  not  without  hopes  that  I  may  be  able  to 
improve  practice  somewhat. 

"  If  it  please  God  to  afford  me  the  possibility,  I 
shall  take  one  summer  holiday  in  New  York,  if  only 
to  shake  you  and  yours  by  the  hand.  It  is  a  part  of 

1  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  James,  November  14,  1852. 


HOMCEOPATHY  251 

my  medical  creed  that  a  medical  man  cannot  do 
justice  to  his  year  unless  he  recreates  himself  for  a 
few  weeks  in  the  best  season.  This  I  shall  act  upon 
as  soon  as  I  can.  And  your  country  shall  have  one 
of  my  first  fortnights.1 

"  My  chief  studies  at  present  are  Homoeopathy, 
Botany,  as  connected  with  the  popular  medical  use 
of  Plants,  the  Herbals  of  all  nations  and  their  avail- 
ability for  practice  ;  lastly,  the  physical  and  physio- 
logical and  the  pathogenetic  characters  of  substances, 
and  the  correspondence  between  these  various 
characters.  Thus,  for  example,  I  want  to  see  in  the 
growth  and  character  of  a  plant  the  very  double  of 
the  effects  which  it  produces  upon  the  animal  body. 
Now  this,  with  practice  and  Northern  Languages, 
is  what  my  little  life  is  about." 

It  is  a  scheme  of  pursuits  large  enough  to  occupy 
the  mind  of  a  busy  man.  Wilkinson  had  "  found 
himself  "  medically,  just  as  he  had  "  found  himself  " 
theologically  some  years  earlier  ;  and  it  is  plain  that 
the  theology  and  the  medicine  have  an  essential 
connection.  It  is  plain,  too,  that  the  stricter  limits 
of  homoeopathy,  which  demand  that  the  drugs  pre- 
scribed shall  have  been  proved  on  the  healthy  body, 
were  not  entirely  to  his  taste.  In  this,  as  in  all 
things,  Wilkinson  was  eclectic  and  transcendental, 
ready  to  advance  beyond  the  letter  of  his  master 
when  he  had  himself  assimilated  the  spirit. 

1  It  was  not  until  1869,  however,  that  Wilkinson  visited  the  United 
States. 


252     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

1  "  Do  you  know  that  I  am  going  out  of  the  bounds 
of  Homoeopathy  in  the  use   of  medicaments  ?     I 
find  that  the  old  Herbals  give  note  of  a  number  of 
plants   and  the  like,   useful  for  certain  maladies  ; 
and  the  use  descended  from  ancient  time  and  well 
attested.     Now,  what  but  pedantry  should  prevent 
anyone  from  curing  by  this  prestige  ?    Why  not  pre- 
pare the  herbs  Homceopathically,  and  use  them  by 
tradition  ?     When  they  have  been  also  proved  upon 
the  healthy  body,  so  much  the  better;    but  why 
wait  for  that  ?    The  fact  of  cure  is  just  as  scientific 
as,  and  more  direct  than,  the  fact  of  pathogenesy. 
Here  is  a  matter  that  has  been  neglected,  and  that 
I  must  work,  as  being  of  import  to  human  health." 

In  the  meantime,  if  Wilkinson  proclaimed  him- 
self unconcerned  with  strict  orthodoxy  towards  the 
creed  of  his  adoption,  he  was  made  conscious  of  his 
unorthodoxy  towards  the  traditional  practice  of 
his  profession ;  and  that  too  was  a  matter  which 
troubled  him  little. 

2  "  The  medical  profession  is  indeed  bitter  against 
Homoeopathy  :  and  they  are  to  be  excused,  for  they 
are  considerable  losers  by  it.    The  Homoeopathic 
practitioners,  on  the  other  hand,  are  in  a  state  of 
equanimity  and  good  humour,  and  find  it  not  very 
difficult  to  love  their  enemies,  when  the  public  and 
success  are  so  markedly  in  their  own  favour.    Here 

1  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  James,  December  30,  1852. 

2  Letter  to  his  Father,  January  28,  1852. 


HOMCEOPATHY 

in  this  neighbourhood  I  have  no  competitors  :  the 
old  practitioners  do  me  no  harm,  but  compete 
seriously  with  each  other :  and  I,  by  sitting  still, 
reap  the  benefit  of  their  divisions.  This  is  going  on 
at  an  increased  ratio  every  year,  and  must,  in  the 
end,  work  a  vital  alteration  in  the  position  of  what 
now  regards  itself  as  Orthodox  Medicine.  Apropos, 
however,  of  which  orthodoxy,  it  is  as  new  in  point 
of  time,  if  not  of  truth,  as  Homoeopathy  itself.  For, 
were  the  Garths  and  the  Boerhaves  to  peep  down 
upon  us  now,  they  would  never  recognize  the  present 
Rulers  of  Medicine  as  their  lineal  descendants." 

His  reply  to  his  experience  of  the  "  Odium 
Medicum  "  was  the  delivery  and  publication  of  an 
Address  on  "  Unlicensed  Medicine."  a  whole-hearted 
attack  on  his  own  profession,  wherein  he  charged  it 
with  narrowness  of  mind  and  self-interested  policy, 
with  neglect  of  progress  and  with  surgical  mutilation 
undertaken  for  the  profit  of  the  operator  rather  than 
that  of  the  patient.  He  advocated  reform  by  com- 
plete discharterment  of  medicine,  leaving  it  free  for 
all  men  to  practise  at  their  peril,  subject  to  punish- 
ment for  recklessness  or  culpable  negligence.  It 
was  written,  we  may  surmise,  rather  for  the  sake  of 
the  indictment  than  in  any  expectation  of  securing 
either  conviction  or  reform.  Concerning  it,  he 
wrote  : x 

"  I  will   send   you  the   Address  on  *  Unlicensed 

1  Letter  to  his  Father,  December  15,  1855. 


JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

Medicine '  when  I  get  a  copy :  I  have  none  by  me, 
but  have  ordered  a  supply  from  the  Publishers. 
In  estimating  the  prudence  of  the  Tract,  it  is  to  be 
borne  in  mind  that  I  am  not  in  a  usual  position ; 
but  that  the  other  school  of  Medicine  already  bans 
me  and  all  similar  persons.  Did  I  belong  to  the 
established  class,  such  an  address  would  indeed  be 
the  height  of  imprudence." 

Upon  the  question  of  dose  in  treatment,  Wilkinson 
was  among  what  even  the  homoeopaths  reckon 
"  high  dilutionists,"  prescribing  almost  always  on  a 
centesimal  scale  and  usually  far  along  it.  In  a 
"  lay  "  consideration  of  his  medical  work,  it  will  be 
enough  to  quote  his  opinion  as  given  to  a  "  lay  " 
correspondent,  and  to  add  that  his  habitual  use  of 
drugs  tended  ever  to  become  more  and  more  im- 
material. 

1  "  To  what  you  say  about  small  doses  Homoeo- 
pathic and  large  doses  ditto,  I  have  only  one  thing 
to  answer,  that  I  find  my  minute  potions  do  their 
work — surely,  swiftly,  and  sweetly.  If  others  find 
bigger  things  do  the  same,  there  is  not  any  quarrel 
between  us.  But  I  do  aver  and  maintain  my  own 
position.  Every  day's  practice  confirms  me  in  the 
thought  that,  if  the  right  remedy  is  hit,  the  quantity 
is  a  secondary  affair ;  though  also  the  quantity, 
in  that  case,  by  all  the  rules  of  causes,  may  be  smaller 
than  in  the  other  case — of  inexacter  skill. 

1  Letter  to  Mr  Henry  James,  February  8,  1855. 


HOMOEOPATHY  255 

"But  my  object,  my  grand  wish,  in  the  little 
Book,1  is  to  show  that  Medicine  can  be  organized 
and  applied  to  nations  by  Homeopathy,  and  as  yet 
by  no  other  claimant.  This  argument,  if  it  be  im- 
pregnable, casts  back  a  powerful  confirmation  on 
Homeopathy  itself,  and  thrills  it  through  with 
public  virtue. 

"  You,  more  than  any  other  man,  led  me  into 
Homoeopathy,  and  if  you  are  lapsing  away  from  it, 
I  shall  think  it  my  duty  to  take  your  Senility  into 
custody  and  to  keep  you  by  me  in  an  old  man's 
chair  of  credulity,  until  you  can  start  young  again 
into  faith." 

But  the  main  point  of  interest  in  Wilkinson's 
adoption  of  Homoeopathy  lies  in  the  similarity  which 
can  be  plainly  seen  in  his  theological  and  medical 
creed.  The  doctrine  of  correspondences  is  the 
working  key  of  the  New  Church  attitude  toward 
God  and  conduct.  In  matters  medical,  the  corres- 
pondence of  drug  effects  and  disease  effects  is  the 
whole  of  the  Homoeopathic  practice.  This  similarity 
was  a  striking  one  to  Wilkinson,  whose  attachment 
to  medicine  had  never  been  strongly  marked.  The 
convinced  and  enthusiastic  followers  of  Swedenborg 
found  the  system  of  Hahnemann  a  scientific  state- 
ment of  the  doctrine  of  correspondences  in  terms 
of  medicine.  He  did  not,  however,  adopt  it  per 
saltum  on  purely  theoretic  grounds,  but  examined 

1  "  War,  Cholera  and  the  Ministry  of  Health." 


256     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

it  and  tested  it  on  his  patients.  By  degrees  he  found 
himself  leaning  ever  more  toward  the  homoeopathic 
law,  and  ever  less  addicted  to  the  routine  practice 
of  the  time :  patients  flocked  to  him :  he  was  for 
the  first  time  happy  in  being  "  able  to  connect  his 
mind  to  his  work."  Yet  in  this,  as  in  other  things, 
he  stood  alone.  There  were,  he  felt,  possibilities  of 
extension  and  development  in  Homoeopathy ;  and 
he  was  characteristically  eager  to  make  the  summit 
of  Hahnemann's  attainment  the  "  jumping  off  place  " 
into  a  new  conquest  over  disease  by  a  transcendental 
extension  of  the  law  of  similars.  But  it  was  the 
doctrine  of  correspondences  which  made  and  kept 
him  a  Homceopathist ;  and  traces  of  the  bond 
between  his  religious  and  medical  creed  are  con- 
stantly cropping  up  in  the  letters  and  books  which 
he  wrote.  It  is  much  in  evidence  in  the  following 
quotation  from  "  Swedenborg  among  the  Doctors  " 
an  open  letter  to  Dr  Cooper  at  whose  house  Wilkinson 
had  been  invited  to  a  medical  symposium  in  1895. 
He  was  unable  to  attend,  but  sent  what  he  afterwards 
expanded  into  a  tract  to  represent  his  views. 

"To  command  the  country  of  the  soul,  that  is, 
the  human  body,  a  military  intellect,  seeing  the 
anarchy  and  disorder  of  scientism,  its  want  of  a 
Ruling  Soul,  could  not  but  discern  as  a  strategic 
necessity,  that  it  was  necessary  to  lay  down  new 
ways  by  which  he  might  be  led  to  such  unrecognized 
Ruler,  and  gain  access  to  her  palace,  and  support 


HOMOEOPATHY  257 

and  sanction  from  her  power.  Every  march  of 
humanity  requires  new  roads  if  there  are  none  laid 
down  already.  Hahnemann,  coming  into  empirical 
and  chaotic  medicine,  found  an  old  disused  road 
in  Hippocrates,  '  Similia  similibus  curenturj  and 
following  it  resolutely,  he  founded  a  new  medical 
Kingdom.  Our  Art,  Homoeopathy,  is  thus,  by 
virtue  of  having  a  mental  highway  through  it,  a 
stable  possession  of  the  rational  faculty.  Let  this 
instance,  familiar  to  us,  show  the  importance,  or 
rather  indispensable  necessity,  of  doctrinal  Road- 
making  ;  we  may  say,  of  iron  roads. 

"  Under  stress  of  this,  Swedenborg  gratified  what 
was  then  his  life's  love,  the  prosecution  of  the  quest 
of  the  soul  by  rational  divination  of  her  attributes 
from  her  faculties  in  the  body.  The  new  ways  by 
which  he  must  travel  are  not,  however,  easy  to  him 
to  find.  He  has  '  to  discover,  disengage  and  bring 
them  forth,  by  the  most  intense  application  and 
study.'  They  are  new  doctrines,  for  doctrines  always 
lead,  guide  and  lead  on  and  on :  true  doctrines 
namely.  These  might  always  be  summed  up  in 
the  injunction,  '  Similia,  similibus  divinentur '  or 
'  interpretenturS  '  They  are  the  doctrines  of  forms, 
of  order  and  degrees,  of  series  and  society,  of  com- 
munication and  influx,  of  correspondence  and  repre- 
sentation, and  of  modification.'  These  doctrines 
or  teachings  are  the  way  to  a  Rational  Psychology, 
or  approximate  knowledge  of  the  Soul." 


258     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

The  same  view  is  expressed  in  a  more  practical 
connection  in  the  following  letter  to  an  old  friend  : x 

44  DEAR  FRIEND, — I  rejoice  to  hear  that  you  are 
walking  miles,  and  that  you  have  a  rest  from  news- 
papers and  books.  But  I  cannot  divine  why  you 
should  not  cure  yourself  by  homoeopathic  coincid- 
ences which  are  natural  and  scientific  correspond- 
ences, and  which  follow  the  divine  way  of  ceasing 
medicinally  first  to  do  any  evil,  and  then  are  gifted 
to  do  good.  Were  you  to  send  to  the  homoeopathic 
chemist  in  Glasgow  for  a  half-ounce  bottle  of  Antim. 
Tart,  pilules,  and  take  three,  night  and  morning,  in 
a  wineglassful  of  hot  water,  you  would,  in  my  belief, 
cease  to  be  the  slave  of  damp,  and  brain  would 
animate,  and  lung  would  respire.  Who  can  say 
that  the  Lord's  arm  is  interfered  with  by  using  the 
vanishing  point  of  medicine,  when  it  becomes  mental 
scientific  correspondences  ?  Hot  bricks,  etc.,  etc., 
are  means ;  but  so  also  is  that  practice  which  takes 
up  deadly  serpents,  and  forbids  their  harming  and 
then  does  their  good.  For  they  have  good.  As 
E.  S.  says,  they  absorb  malignities. — Yours, 

"  J.  J.  GARTH  WILKINSON." 

Correspondences  and  homoeopathy  are  again  cor- 
related in  this  letter  to  a  friend  whose  daughter  was 
in  trouble  with  curvature  of  the  spine.  It  is  interest- 

1  Letter  to  Mr  J.  Thomson,  June  7, 1898. 


HOMOEOPATHY  259 

ing,  too,  to  see  that  the  writer,  at  the  age  of  84,  is 
ready  to  endorse  the  bicycle  for  the  use  of  women. 

"  I  sympathize  with  you  heartily  in  your  per- 
plexity about  your  dear  Daughter's  treatment.  You 
know  I  am  a  resolved  Homoeopath,  and  so  far 
as  drugs  go,  I  am  confirmed  in  this  name  by  the 
immeasurably  greater  harmlessness  and  success 
of  the  treatment  by  the  science  of  correspond- 
ences intuitively  and  experimentally  given  through 
Hahnemann.  So  I  should  certainly  advise  medicine 
in  that  line  in  spinal  curvature.  Other  treatment 
also.  But  without  knowing  the  extent  of  the 
curvature,  it  is  difficult  to  suggest  or  sanction.  .  .  . 

"  With  respect  to  Cycling,  I  am  not  at  all  dis- 
posed to  endorse  her  opinion  that  no  woman  should 
cycle.  It  is  founded  on  no  experience ;  and  against 
it  there  is  the  fact  that  women  cycle  better  than  men. 
Deprived  of  the  masculine  seat  on  the  horse,  why 
should  not  woman  be  bilateral  on  these  terrene  skates 
of  steel  ?  My  granddaughters,  just  returned  from 
Coblenz,  tell  me  that  their  brother,  Captain  Pertz, 
holds  that  the  ladies  beat  the  officers,  their  hus- 
bands, in  cycling.  But  evidently  in  a  young 
lady  of  17  with  a  weak  spine,  fatigue  should  be 
avoided." 

Wilkinson's  spiritualized  and  transcendal  view 
of  medicine,  and  the  essential  unity  of  his  theological 
and  medical  outlook  come  out  very  clearly  too  in 
the  following  letter. 


260     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

1  "  I  received  your  fine  volume,  <  The  Twelve  Tissue 
Remedies  of  Schussler,'  soon  after  the  arrival  of  your 
letter,  and  I  have  every  reason  to  thank  you  for  it. 
I  have  read  Part  I.  with  attention,  and  use  the 
Body  of  the  Book  in  my  now  small  opportunities  of 
practice.  And  later  on,  if  my  year  of  life  be  still 
prolonged,  your  Remarks  may  help  me  greatly  in 
a  few  words  which  I  desire  to  leave  respecting 
Homoeopathy. 

"  Schussler  is  vague  both  in  his  idea  of  the  twelve 
salts  in  their  existence  in  the  blood,  and  also  as 
regards  the  causation  of  the  effects  of  the  same  salts 
as  administered  in  his  6th  triturations.  Only  one 
man  that  I  know  of  propounded  an  organic  view, 
which  at  last,  with  a  vital  end  internal  to  it,  must 
be  the  clear  and  central  intuition.  That  one  man 
was  Swedenborg.  His  statement  that  the  atom  of 
common  salt  is  the  basement  on  which  the  blood- 
globule  is  built  up — the  dead,  useful,  natural  world 
of  it — assigns  place  and  function  to  this  cell-salt. 
And  the  further  information  that  there  are  aerial 
and  etherial  salts  corresponding  and  similarly  basic 
in  the  higher  blood-architectures  is  a  higher  stretch 
than  any  doctrine  of  dilutions.  What  may  be  the 
ultimate  fate  of  this  spiritually-ingenious  theory  ? 
At  least  it  must  stimulate  thoughts.  Whatever 
the  bone  of  the  blood,  can  it  be  diseased,  so  as  to  set 
up  a  crooked  blood-spine,  involving  a  weak  nerve 

1  Letter  to  Dr  Boericke,  October  19,  1893. 


HOMOEOPATHY 

influx  and  dwarfish  deformed  nature  in  the  atomic 
blood  itself  ?  (One)  such  as  a  weak  deformed  spine 
may  involve  in  the  general  body  ? 

"  And  then  how  does  an  infinitesimal  cell- salt 
correct  aberrations  of  such  salts  in  the  organism  ? 
Here  we  want  a  theory  of  Homoeopathy;  for 
Schussler's  salts  all  act  by  their  likeness  to  their 
fellow-salts  suffering  and  crying  out  in  the  body. 
Through  my  dear  R.  E.  Dudgeon,  I  have  just  re- 
perused  the  *  Organon,'  translated  by  him  ;  but 
Hahnemann's  explanation  of  Homreopathy  is  not  a 
likely  one,  for  how  can  the  slight  monition  of  an 
infinitesimal  dose  be  a  more  powerful  state  than  the 
diseased  action  which  it  fronts  and  routs  ?  David's 
pebble  from  the  Brook  which  smote  Goliath  was  not 
naturally  stronger  than  he,  but  spiritually.  So 
Homoeopathy  needs  a  spiritual,  or  natural-spiritual, 
explanation.  So  also  does  Catalysis.  A  doctrine 
of  regeneration  is  needed.  That  can  alter  things 
from  the  smallest  beginnings,  and  rectify  a  salt  that 
has  lost  its  character,  and  make  the  blood  upright. 
To  follow  out  this  Swedenborgian  opening  will  be 
the  work  of  future  time.  I  want  to  think  of  it,  if 
my  time  allows. 

"  The  salts  in  Plants  must  be  prepared  by  and 
in  organization  for  acting  peculiarly  on  animal 
organization :  and  mineral  salts  themselves  must 
have  a  peculiar  field. 

"  On  the  subject  of  plant-salts,  I  will  mention  that 


262     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

I  have  long  used  the  silica  which  is  deposited  in  the 
bottoms  of  the  manifold  cases  of  the  large  bamboos 
in  India :  and,  having  some,  I  will  send  you  a 
specimen.  I  have  used  it  with  success  where  silica 
is  indicated,  but  especially  in  acute,  rather  than  in 
chronic,  cases." 

Wilkinson's  scientific  contributions  to  the  litera- 
ture of  the  school  of  medicine  to  which  he  belonged 
have  been  enumerated  in  the  chapter  which  deals 
with  his  biography :  they  were  marked  by  all  his 
usual  power  of  expression  and  definition  of  aim. 
He  contributed  also  to  the  number  of  drugs  used  by 
the  homoeopath.  On  one  of  his  Icelandic  journeys 
he  was  struck  by  the  frequency  of  caries  and  necrosis 
among  the  natives  living  in  the  volcanic  regions  and 
attributed  the  prevalence  of  these  diseases  to  the 
use  of  water  which  had  percolated  through  lava. 
Recognizing  the  bearing  of  the  homoeopathic  law 
upon  this  observation,  he  was  led  to  prepare  and 
prescribe  Hekla  lava  as  a  drug  for  similar  cases 
otherwise  induced ;  and  the  drug  has  justified  its 
selection  and  maintained  its  place  in  its  own  limited 
field.  In  1857  he  also  introduced  to  use  Glanderine 
and  Farcine,  two  nosodes  or  products  from  Veterinary 
diseases.  The  use  of  such  things  was  at  that  time 
vilified  and  derided  by  those  who  opposed  homoeo- 
pathy, but  Wilkinson  lived  to  see  the  age  of 
Koch's  various  tuberculins  and  of  the  antidiptheritic 
serum.  The  articles  in  which  he  advocated  the  use 


HOMOEOPATHY  263 

of  these  drugs  may  be  found  by  the  curious  in  "  The 
British  Journal  of  Homoeopathy." 

But,  after  all,  the  work  of  the  practising  physician 
can  only  be  traced  partially  in  the  professional  press. 
When  once  Wilkinson  had  embraced  homoeopathy, 
he  recognized  himself  and  was  speedily  recognized 
by  others  as  highly  gifted  in  the  treatment  of  disease. 
From  that  time  forward  his  practice  was  assured, 
and  he  numbered  people  of  influence  and  position 
among  his  patients.  Indeed,  to  the  time  of  his  death, 
there  were  those  who  would  not  allow  him  to  retire 
altogether  from  attending  them  :  there  was  always 
a,  residuum  who  refused  to  believe  that  he  could  not 
and  would  not  help  them  in  their  bodily  ailments. 
From  1850  to  1880  his  practice  was  a  large  one  : 
after  the  death  of  Mrs  Wilkinson  in  1886,  he  with- 
drew from  it  to  a  great  extent.  Reckoning  from  his 
qualification  in  1834,  he  was  actively  engaged  in 
medical  work  for  fifty-two  years  :  but  to  the  end,  as 
we  have  said,  he  was  more  or  less  in  touch  with  the 
treatment  of  disease. 

Perhaps,  however,  there  was  never  a  practitioner 
of  medicine  who  was  less  a  member  of  the  profession 
at  heart.  Almost  from  the  first  he  would  have  dis- 
chartered  that  profession  and  have  thrown  the 
treatment  of  the  sick  open  to  all  who  chose  to  engage 
in  it,  holding  them  equally  responsible  whether 
formally  qualified  or  not.  Degrees  and  diplomas 
would  have  conveyed  no  privilege,  had  Wilkinson 


264     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

been  allowed  his  way.  Surgery  was  ever  an  abomina- 
tion to  him.  He  not  only  abstained  from  practis- 
ing it  himself ;  but  he  would  have  surrounded  its 
practice  by  others  with  narrow  restrictions  and 
have  checked  its  development :  its  abuse,  as  he 
reckoned  it,  would  have  met  with  immediate  and 
proportionate  punishment.  His  quarrel  with  char- 
tered and  licensed  medicine  gradually  crystallized 
itself  around  three  subjects,  vaccination,  vivisection 
and  the  working  of  the  Contagious  Diseases  Act. 
It  is  necessary  that  we  should  deal  briefly  with 
Wilkinson's  action  with  regard  to  each  of  these 
subjects. 

When  his  sister  contracted  smallpox  in  Wilkinson's 
bachelor  establishment,  in  the  early  summer  of 
1839,  he  wrote  to  his  fiancee  :  "  On  Friday  morning 
I  procured  some  lymph,  and  vaccinated  all  the 
inmates,  including  myself ;  and  I  am  now  most 
desirous  that  you  should  be  placed  in  safety  by  the 
same  process.  How  and  when  this  is  to  be  done  we 
must  endeavour  to  determine."  So  it  is  clear  that 
at  this  time  he  was  not  opposed  to  either  the  theory 
or  practice  of  Jenner's  inoculation,  which  had  then 
been  before  the  world  for  some  forty  years. 

His  aversion  can  be  told  in  his  own  words  :  "  The 
early  history  of  my  opposition  to  Vaccination  is, 
briefly,  this — I  had  not  considered  Vaccination  a 
question ;  but  practised  it  when  required.  About 
1865  the  Countess  de  Noailles  assailed  my  conscience 


HOMOEOPATHY  265 

on  the  subject,  and  her  earnestness  forced  me  to  study 
it.  She  was  backed  by  the  late  Mrs  Gibbs,  then  Miss 
Griffiths.  Through  Miss  Griffiths,  I  sent  the  follow- 
ing message  to  Madame  de  Noailles  : — '  Tell  her 
Ladyship  that  the  question  is  comparatively  un- 
important. Vaccination  is  an  infinitesimal  affair. 
Its  reform  will  come  in  with  greater  reforms.'  I 
also  wrote  to  Madame  that  the  only  short  way  of 
getting  rid  of  the  medical  vested  interest  was  by 
paying  half  a  million  or  a  million  of  money  down 
to  the  Profession,  and  buying  the  slaves,  the  people, 
out,  as  the  West  Indian  Blacks  were  brought  out. 

"  After-studies  extending  over  eighteen  years  have 
convinced  me  that  I  was  wrong  in  my  estimate  of 
the  smallness  of  the  Vaccination  question  compared 
with  other  Evils.  As  forced  upon  every  British 
Cradle,  I  see  it  is  a  monster  instead  of  as  a  Poisonous 
Midge  ;  a  Devourer  of  Nations.  As  a  Destroyer  of 
the  Honesty  and  Humanity  of  Medicine,  which  is 
through  it  a  deeply  degraded  Profession.  As  a 
Tyrant  which  is  the  Parent  of  a  brood  of  Tyrants, 
and  through  Pasteur  and  his  like  a  Universal  Pollu- 
tion Master.  As  a  Ghoul  which  sits  upon  Parliament, 
and  enforces  Contamination  by  Law,  and  prepares 
the  way  for  endless  violations  of  personal  liberty 
and  sound  sense  at  the  bidding  of  cruel  experts. 
Not  denying  other  forms  of  Social  Wickedness,  I 
now,  after  careful  study,  regard  Vaccination  as  one 
of  the  greatest  and  deepest  forms,  abolishing  the 


266     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

last  hope  and  resort  of  races,  the  new-born  soundness 
of  the  Human  Body."  l 

The  first  trace  of  this  fierce  opposition  discoverable 
in  Wilkinson's  private  correspondence  occurs  in  a 
letter  to  his  wife,  dated  February  23,  1870. 

''  There  is,  I  hear,  no  truth  in  what  the  Paper 
says  about  Government  and  the  Vaccination  Laws. 
A  storm  is  brewing  such  as  they  little  expect.  The 
cases  of  dire  injury  from  Vaccination  are  multiplying, 
and  the  cases  of  violated  parents,  who,  rightly  or 
wrongly  it  matters  not,  are  agonized  about  their 

little  ones.  Yesterday,  Mrs  got  Miss  

to  ask  me  my  opinion  about  Vaccination.  They 
insist  upon  doing  her  children,  not  yet  out  of  whoop- 
ing cough,  or  fining  her  !  The  thing  is  too  incon- 
ceivably abominable  to  last.  Let  whoso  will  be 
protected  (?)  by  Vaccination  be  Vaccinated :  but 
is  it  in  this  day  that  others,  against  their  hearts' 
blood  and  their  often  terrible  experiences  and  their 

convictions,  should  be  compelled  ?  Mrs  was 

moved  to  ask  me  by  hearing  such  sad  results  from 
Vaccination  in  her  own  circle.  I  advised  her  not 
to  have  her  child  vaccinated." 

Wilkinson  gives  two  cases  in  his  essay  on  Com- 
pulsory Vaccination  which  may  explain  his  attitude 
toward  the  practice.  The  first  of  these  appears 
from  the  context  to  have  occurred  in  1863. 

"  Miss    Edith    Hutchinson,    of    Kensington,   was 

1  W.  White,  "The  Story  of  a  Great  Delusion/'  p.  549. 


HOMOEOPATHY  267 

vaccinated  by  the  late  eminent  Dr  Joseph  Laurie. 
The  arm  swelled  enormously,  and  was  hard  like  wood. 
After  a  month  it  subsided,  and  then  a  putrid  thrush 
occurred,  which  disappeared  after  some  weeks. 
The  disease  was  next  transferred  to  the  abdomen 
and  its  lymphatic  system ;  and  she  died  of  great 
purulent  collections  in  its  cellular  tissues,  the  matter, 
putrescent,  voided  by  the  bowels.  I  attended 
the  later  stages  of  the  case  with  Dr  L.  Vaccination, 
careful  conscientious  vaccination,  did  it,  as  plainly 
as  fire  burns.  .  .  .  Another  case.  My  coachman's 
child  was  vaccinated,  and  took  it  with  erysipelas, 
which  overspread  the  body.  The  mother,  who  was 
nursing  it,  took  the  erysipelas,  and  both  nearly 
died  of  it.  I  assert  that  this  result  of  two  long 
and  all  but  fatal  illnesses  was,  in  a  poor  man's 
house,  due  to  vaccination,  and  consequently  due 
to  Parliament." 

Wilkinson  gave  evidence  before  the  House  of 
Commons'  Committee  on  Vaccination  in  1871.  He 
showed  how,  endowed  and  lucrative,  the  futility 
of  vaccination  was  concealed  and  denied,  and  how 
reliance  on  its  supposed  efficacy  paralyzed  improve- 
ment in  treatment.  He  wrote  pamphlet  after 
pamphlet  against  the  evil  as  he  saw  it.  A  brief 
specimen  of  his  plain  speaking,  from  his  "  Human 
Science,  good  and  evil,  and  its  Works  "  (1876)  will 
suffice. 

"  This  is  blood  assassination,  and  like  a  murderer's 


268     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

life.  The  point,  however,  here  is  that  this  amazing 
act  is  the  homicidal  insanity  of  a  whole  profession  ; 
and  the  reader  is  requested  to  study  the  correlation 
of  this  sin  with  the  horrible  methods  of  acquiring 
physiology  now  in  vogue,  and  which  surely  prepare 
the  minds  of  men  for  similar  darkness  and  its  deeds 
in  medical  practice." 

But  Wilkinson's  zeal  did  not  exhaust  itself  in  his 
public  writings.  It  constrained  him  also  in  many 
seemingly  minor  matters. 

In  1874  he  is  found  writing  to  a  candidate  for 
the  Coronership  of  his  division  of  London  as  follows : — 

"  I  am  solicited  to  vote  for  you  for  Coroner.  I 
do  not  vote  for  Dr  H.  (1)  because  a  medical 
coroner  is  not  desirable;  and  (2)  because  Dr  H.  is 
so  identified  with  vaccination  prosecutions  that  his 
impartiality  in  cases  of  death  from  vaccination 
could  not  be  expected.  How  do  you  stand  upon  this 
question  ? 

"  Mr  John  Bright  declares  the  Compulsory  Vac- 
cination Law  to  be  '  monstrous,'  and  that  it  ought 
to  be  repealed.  One  way  of  demonstrating  its 
monstrosity  to  the  world  is  by  fairly  recording 
its  malfeasances  in  the  verdicts  of  Coroners'  juries 
impartially  charged  by  Coroners.  A  public  word 
from  you  on  this  point  is  desirable." 

He  interrogated  the  parliamentary  candidates 
in  the  same  spirit,  nor  did  his  influential  acquaint- 
ances escape. 


HOMCEOPATHY  269 

1  "  DEAR  MR  BRIGHT, — In  earnest  petition  I 
address  you  on  the  Compulsory  Vaccination  question. 
On  that  subject  you  have  expressed  opinion  twice, 
and  your  views  have  been  circulated  through  the 
press.  You  said  the  first  time, '  The  law  is  monstrous, 
and  ought  to  be  repealed.'  And  you  write  to  Mr 
Tebb,  '  I  think  your  case  one  of  great  hardship,  but 
I  fear  I  can  do  nothing  to  help  you.  These  repeated 
penalties  are,  in  my  view,  most  unjust,  and  I  wish 
the  law  were  changed." 

"  I  cannot  understand  that  your  feeling  against 
a  '  monstrous  '  law,  with  its  '  most  unjust '  penalties, 
should  produce  your  last  expression  of  opinion. 
You  cannot  help  Mr  Tebb  personally,  and  he  does 
not  expect  it.  But  what  we  do  expect  is  that  when 
John  Bright  finds  a  law  monstrous  and  wishes  its 
repeal,  and  when  his  little  finger,  stoutly  raised, 
would  encourage  and  help  the  whole  of  the  persecuted 
against  that  law,  justice  and  mercy,  as  of  old,  as  for 
Ireland,  as  for  India,  should  move  him  ;  and  silence, 
be  it  ever  so  much  desired  by  him,  should  be  greatly 
broken. 

"It  is  not  by  '  fearing  that  you  can  do  nothing 
to  help  '  that  you  have  been  the  friend  of  the  poor 
and  oppressed  since  first  I  heard  you  as  a  young 
man  in  the  Anti-Corn-Law  Agitation.  It  is  not 
in  the  ignominous  night- cap  of  such  fearing 
that  your  great  sword  of  words  has  slept  when 

1  Letter  to  Mr  John  Bright,  December  17,  1877. 


270     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

public  evil  was  to  be  hewed  down  in  the  House  of 
Commons. 

"  Arise,  and  give  us  some  of  the  fire  of  your  true 
heart  here,  in  the  name  of  the  Lord,  and  He  will 
keep  your  heart  young,  and  chase  all  fears  in  other 
needful  contests  for  the  people. — Your  friend, 

"  J.  J.  GARTH  WILKINSON." 

It  is  not  clear  what  pronouncement  by  Mr  Ruskin 
gave  origin  to  this  vigorous  rejoinder  from  Wilkinson. 

1  "  I  have  no  right  to  rejoin  to  so  masterful  a 
dismissal  as  you  give  to  the  subject  of  vaccination. 
But  pardon  me  for  remarking  that  I  care  nothing  for 
4  Codes  of  Lymph,'  but  abjure  them ;  and  am  only 
concerned  to  protect  the  prime  stream  of  all,  the 
blood  of  children,  from  pollution ;  and  the  prime 
air  of  all,  the  liberty  of  affection  and  conscience 
in  the  home,  from  suffocation. 

"  Your  Art  Temple  will  stand  on  legs  and  not  on 
fantasies  when  you  are  not  ashamed  to  take  as 
alternate  pillars  the  substantial  foundations  of 
human  good.  And  you  will  rebuke  the  Circe  of 
Art,  instead  of  aiding  and  abetting  her,  and  will 
teach  artists  to  be  men,  when  you  traverse  their 
Art  with  religious  duties  involving  their  care  and 
attention  to  many  unpleasant  every-day  disciplines, 
which  are  the  only  correctives  of  Art  against  worldli- 
ness,  luxury  and  selfishness." 

1  Letter  to  Mr  John  Ruekin,  July  1,  1878. 


HOMOEOPATHY  271 

Wilkinson  made  many  lasting  friendships  among 
the  enthusiastic  opponents  of  Compulsory  Vaccin- 
ation. Among  these  were  Professor  Siljestrom, 
writer  of  several  Swedish  tracts  upon  this  subject, 
who  died  in  1892,  and  Mr  William  Young,  whose 
work,  as  editor  of  the  Vaccination  Tracts,  Wilkin- 
son took  up  after  his  death  and  concerning  whom 
Wilkinson  wrote  the  following  biographical  notice 
for  an  Anti- Vaccination  journal : — 

"  THE  LATE  MR  WILLIAM  YOUNG. 

44  Excepting  that  new  men  are  often  sent  when 
public  exigency  calls  for  them,  it  is  difficult  to 
imagine  how  the  gap  caused  by  the  decease  of 
William  Young  can  be  filled  from  the  ranks  of  the 
opponents  of  vaccination.  He  has  stood  in  the 
front,  and  if  not  the  foremost  of  all,  it  was  rather 
because  of  his  social  station  than  from  any  defect 
of  quality  as  a  leader. 

44  He  was  a  chemist  and  druggist,  and  kept  a 
shop.  What  did  this  imply  when  he  joined  the 
movement  against  vaccination  ?  I  knew  him  well 
with  a  large  and  increasing  family.  It  was 
a  tolerably  flourishing  shop  in  the  Harrow-road. 
It  fell  down  from  plain  causes.  The  medical  men 
in  the  neighbourhood  refused  to  send  their  pre- 
scriptions to  the  counter  of  an  anti-vaccinationist. 
They  '  boycotted  '  his  shop.  He  was  driven  from 
it ;  and  was  drifted  along  from  neighbourhood  to 


JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

neighbourhood  partly  by  the  same  cause.  His 
poverty  compelled  each  act  of  movement.  But  he 
was  a  real  nobleman  in  every  shop,  true  as  steel 
to  his  convictions.  He  lived  the  truths  he  knew, 
and  made  them  good.  He  belonged  to  the  new 
comity — to  the  new  order. 

"  I  was  associated  with  him  in  the  Vaccination 
Tracts.  In  the  preparation  of  these  he  always 
furnished  me  with  a  draft  plan  of  each  tract,  and 
suggested  several  of  the  pieces.  But  for  him  the 
series  would  not  have  been  completed.  His  urgency 
moved  it  on  and  fed  it  with  useful  suggestions 
of  matter.  His  gentleness  and  modesty  eliminated 
differences  of  design,  and  produced  equal  authority 
between  us.  Though  suffering  from  something  like 
want  all  the  time,  he  did  the  work  with  no  expecta- 
tion of  even  common  wage. 

"  With  a  very  frail  body,  he  did  not  ask  himself 
how  he  was,  but  what  the  day's  work  was  ?  So 
his  industry  was  out  of  all  proportion  to  his  bodily 
strength,  as  the  most  of  us  equate  the  industry  and 
the  strength.  He  did  not  do  more  than  he  was 
able,  because  he  knew  the  law  that  the  ability 
is  given  in  the  doing.  Every  fresh  occasion,  and 
they  were  incessantly  arising,  called  forth  a  wise 
and  cogent  word  from  him.  Could  the  series  of  his 
articles  and  leaflets  be  collected,  they  would  form  a 
volume  still  useful  to  the  cause,  and  displaying 
a  heart  full  of  sympathy  with  outraged  fathers, 


HOMCEOPATHY 

mothers,  and  infants,  and  a  head  with  a  statesman- 
like vision  of  what  would  come  to  medical  authority, 
and  to  Governments  that  aided  and  abetted  it. 

"  Nor  was  his  attention  or  insight  confined  to 
the  vaccination  tyranny,  but  he  saw  the  downward 
career  of  State-established  medicine,  and  noted  the 
steps  of  the  ladder  which  it  is  preparing  for  itself 
into  the  abyss.  He  divined  its  alliance  with  Pasteur  ; 
and  it  is  only  a  few  weeks  since  I  had  a  communica- 
tion from  him  to  make  me  acquainted  with  the 
New  Youth  recorded  by  Brown-Sequard  for  himself 
from  the  seed  of  dogs. 

"  He  died,  upon  the  whole,  a  neglected  man ; 
but  not  more  neglected  than  in  most  cases  where 
rare  unselfishness,  humility,  and  honesty  are  com- 
bined with  poverty,  in  pleading,  irrespective  of  all 
personal  consequences,  the  destruction  of  aggressive 
tyranny,  and  the  furthering  of  public  good,  especially 
for  the  voiceless  and  the  wailing,  for  the  poor  and 
the  needy.  The  monument  of  their  emancipation 
and  bettering  will  rise  for  him,  nay,  has  risen  for 
him,  but  not  in  these  climates,  and  not  in  their 
cathedrals. 

"  He  has  entered  into  his  rest,'  as  they  say.  A 
man,  however,  of  no  hurry,  making  no  over-estimate 
of  what  single  human  efforts  can  do  in  any  age  of 
visible  self-will  and  its  down-rush,  he  can  help  us 
from  a  higher  ground  to  patience  and  perseverance 
through  the  yet  long  night,  and  to  a  new  youth 


274,     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

of  trust  to  God  in  ourselves,  and  to  God  and  ourselves, 
rather  than  to  the  confirmed  senility  of  Royal 
Commissions.  Herein,  we  divine,  will  be  a  part 
of  his  Rest. 

'  No  flowers  '  may  well  be  underscored  in  such 
an  obituary.  His  path  was  not  a  flowery  one ; 
certainly  not  '  the  primrose  path  to  the  everlasting 
bonfire.'  He  trod  on  thorns  to  make  the  way  smooth 
and  innocent  for  other  people.  If  he  can  whisper 
now  he  might  say,  '  Not  flowers,  but  everywhere 
Fruits.'  And  I  will  say  what  he  never  said,  '  Ye 
who  can,  be  personally  fruitful  here ;  ye  who  have 
been  with  him  in  this  holy  cause  of  anti-vaccination, 
think  of  the  home  left  desolate  now ;  think  of 
his  wife  and  children,  in  poverty  now  because  of 
his  life-long  devotion  to  the  interests  of  all  homes  and 
parental  rights  ;  and  of  love  and  conscience  conse- 
crate come  part  of  your  abundance,  or  your  '  two 
mites,'  to  succour  with  money-offerings — yes,  with 
money — those  he  loved,  and  who  sorely  need  your 
assistance." 

"  Honour  be  to  the  noble  memory  of  William 
Young !  " 

Many  will  consider  that  the  agitation  against 
the  Compulsory  Vaccination  of  Infants  was  mis- 
guided and  futile  :  but  few  will  deny  to  those  who 
took  the  leading  part  in  it  that  they  were  thoroughly 
honest  in  their  convictions  and  earnest  in  their 


HOMOEOPATHY  275 

efforts,  or  that  the  ultimate  outcome  of  their  work 
in  the  recognition  of  the  "  conscientious  objector  " 
transcended  anything  which  might,  in  the  early 
days,  have  been  expected  from  it.  Right  or  wrong 
in  his  contentions,  Wilkinson's  attitude  was  forth- 
right, insistent  and  uncompromising  throughout ; 
and  to  his  work  may  be  credited  no  small  share 
of  the  result  attained. 

Remarks  of  somewhat  the  same  character  may  be 
made  concerning  the  share  which  Wilkinson  took 
in  opposing  the  practice  and  legal  licence  of  experi- 
ments on  living  animals.  His  condemnation  of 
vivisection  was  heart-felt  and  outspoken,  as  was 
his  way,  but  we  know  of  no  instance  where  he 
perverted  truth  or  imparted  prejudice.  He  wrote 
some  fugitive  tracts  on  the  subject,  but  his  most 
reasoned  pronouncement  will  be  found  running 
through  "  On  Human  Science,  Good  and  Evil,  and 
its  Works ;  and  on  Divine  Revelation  and  its 
Works  and  Sciences,"  which  appeared  in  1876,  the 
year  in  which  the  "  Vivisection  Act  "  became  law. 
Wilkinson  held  strong  views  as  to  the  limitations 
of  science ;  his  tendency  was  to  mistrust  chemical 
and  physical  bases  for  vital  processes  ;  and  this 
for  him  discounted  the  value  of  the  results  of  vivi- 
section. But  had  he  held  the  general  opinion  of 
his  profession  as  to  the  value  of  those  results,  he 
would  still  have  regarded  the  processes  by  which 
they  were  attained  as  impious  and  profane  in  the 


276     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

deepest  sense.  It  is  not  necessary  to  quote  at  length 
from  his  published  writings  upon  the  subject :  it 
will  suffice  to  give  evidence  of  his  feeling  concerning 
it  from  his  private  correspondence. 

When  Professor  Tafel  was  bringing  out  his  monu- 
mental edition  of  Swedenborg's  work  upon  "  The 
Brain,"  he  received  from  Wilkinson  hearty  and 
ungrudging  assistance  which  was,  by  Wilkinson's 
own  wish,  only  acknowledged  generally,  without 
mention  of  its  extent  or  scope.  The  following 
extracts  from  letters  show  Wilkinson's  anxiety 
that  Swedenborg's  name  should  not  be  brought 
to  bear  in  support  of  vivisection : — 

1  "  I  have  just  received  the  enclosed,  which  I 
think  you  ought  to  read.  I  foresee  that,  without 
care  be  exercised,  Swedenborg's  citation  of  horribly 
cruel  experiments  on  living  animals  will  prejudice 
his  name  in  a  way  that  nothing  else  has  done,  with 
all  those  who  uphold  humanity  to  animals  in  this 
country ;  which  is  the  stronghold  of  the  ever-increas- 
ing feeling  against  the  atrocities  of  scientism.  My 
belief  is  that  Swedenborg  gained  nothing  for  his 
intuitions  or  inductions  from  the  atrocious  vivi- 
sections which  he  cites.  He  flung  them  down  as 
a  basis,  but  did  not  want  them,  except  that  they 
were  so  much  '  experience.'  The  whole  love  of 
his  writings  is  against  the  scientism  of  mere  curiosity 
as  regards  living  beings  ;  and  his  theology  continually 

1  Letter  to  Dr  Tafel,  April  11,  1882. 


HOMCEOPATHY  277 

denounces   the  scientism  of  the  Proprium  as   the 
greatest  mental  antagonist  to  true  perception." 

1  "  I  have  no  intention  of  writing  a  Preface  to 
your  work.    All  I  should  wish  to  do,   with  your 
approval,  is  to  give,  in  one  paragraph,  which  you 
may  describe  as  a  private  communication  from  me, 
my  view  of  Swedenborg's  possible  standpoint  with 
regard  to  vivisection.    To  state  that  what  he  has 
introduced  into  his  work  on  the  Brain  does  not  show 
what  his  position  would  be  in  the  Vivisection  con- 
troversy of  the  present  day.     I  do  not  think  you  would 
object  to  this.     Also,  in  the  same  pages,  you  might 
confute  it  if  you  saw  fit." 

2  "  I   want   you   to   read   carefully   the   enclosed 
pamphlet  by  Lawson  Tait,  which  is  the  strongest 
professional   attack    that   has    yet   been   made   on 
Vivisection.     You  once  spoke  to  me  of  the  '  abuse 
of  Vivisection  ' :    this  pamphlet  goes   all  the  way 
to  show  that  there  is  no  such  thing  in  a  good  sense 
as  the  Use  of  Vivisection.   .   .   .  It  is  a  most  serious 
subject,  and  one  may  well  hesitate  before  letting 
the  inference  go  forth  that  Swedenborg  would  now, 
when  the  subject  has  been  opened  up,  be  reckoned 
among  the  Vivisectors." 

3  "  I  thank  you  very  much  for  your  letter  on 
Vivisection  as  related  to  Swedenborg's  work  on  the 
Brain.    That  letter  alone  might  be  sufficient,  if  it 

1  Letter  to  Dr  Tafel,  April  21,  1882. 

2  Letter  to  Dr  Tafel,  July  8,  1882. 

3  Letter  to  Dr  Tafel,  July  20,  1882. 


278     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

expressed  any  spiritual  or  moral  horror  of  Vivi- 
section. The  work  will  lie  under  a  ban  unless  that 
is  done,  for  the  experiments  recorded  in  it  are 
atrocious.  And  if  Swedenborg  arrived  at  his  results 
without  such  deeds,  it  would  seem  that  he  ought 
not  to  be  assumed  as  countenancing  Vivisection 
spiritually — which  is  what  it  will  ultimately  come 
to — without  some  other  reason  being  given  for  it 
than  his  discoveries.  If  your  work  leads  to  the 
supposition  that  he  would  join  the  Vivisectors  now 
that  they  are  at  the  bar  of  Humanity,  it  will,  I 
believe,  mislead  the  Youth  of  the  New  Church,  who 
are  quite  open  to  be  misled  ;  as  the  recent  discussion 
in  your  Church  shows. 

"  /  should  not  like  to  be  mentioned  in  connexion 
with  the  work  unless  the  contrary  position,  on  the 
humane  ground,  is  clearly  pointed  out." 

Although  he  was  keenly  interested  in  all  that 
went  on  around  him,  to  the  end  of  his  long  life, 
Wilkinson's  active  interests  were  too  definitely 
predisposed  to  allow  him  to  drift  into  "  a  party 
man  "  in  politics.  He  had  always  certain  questions 
which  he  wished  to  have  ventilated,  certain  wrongs 
(always  the  wrongs  of  others)  which  he  wished  to 
have  righted.  Wherever  he  scented  oppression, 
there  he  championed  the  oppressed,  and  was  ready 
to  range  himself  aside  those  who  were  like-minded. 
Early  in  his  life,  his  keen  sense  of  humour  played 
in  genial  irony  upon  those  with  whom  he  differed. 


HOMCEOPATHY  279 

Later  his  unpopular  predispositions  brought  about  an 
isolation  which  he  keenly  felt  but  never  bewailed  ; 
and  his  method  of  attack  was  marked  by  stern  but 
reasoned  invective.  This  was  nowhere  more  obvious 
than  in  the  strong  and  public  line  which  he  took 
concerning  the  Contagious  Diseases  Prevention  Acts 
of  1866  to  1869.  These  Acts  provided  for  the 
compulsory  examination  of  prostitutes  in  garrison 
towns  by  medical  men,  appointed  for  that  purpose, 
and  the  segregation  of  those  found  dangerous  to 
the  community.  This  was  regarded  as  state  re- 
cognition of  the  evil  which  it  was  designed  to  check. 
Such  measures  had  been  common  on  the  Continent, 
but  their  adoption  in  England  was  new,  and  it  led 
to  long  and  loud  objection  from  many  people  and  on 
many  grounds.  Wilkinson  saw  in  it  an  outrage 
on  womanhood  at  the  instance  of  the  medical  pro- 
fession who,  through  the  Royal  Colleges  of  Physicians 
and  Surgeons,  had  memorialized  Government  in 
favour  of  extension  of  the  areas  to  be  affected,  in 
1869.  He  was  soon  characteristically  busy,  both 
publicly  and  privately,  alone  and  in  conjunction  with 
others,  in  efforts  to  bring  about  the  repeal  of  the 
laws  in  question. 

In  1870  he  issued  a  pamphlet  on  "The  forcible 
Introspection  of  Women  for  the  Army  and  Navy, 
considered  physically,"  of  which  some  mention  has 
been  made  in  the  first  chapter.  In  it  he  spared 
no  effort  to  inspire  pity  for  those  whom  he  regarded 


280     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

as  oppressed,  and  disgust  against  those  whom  he  saw 
as  their  oppressors.  It  is  unnecessary  to  quote 
what  was  intentionally  painful  in  its  effect  upon 
the  reader. 

This  pamphlet  and  another  entitled  "  A  Free  State 
and  Free  Medicine  "  weret  Wilkinson's  contributions 
to  the  agitation  for  the  repeal  of  the  Contagious 
Diseases  Acts.  They  were  highly  approved  by 
the  associations  working  to  that  end,  as  the  following 
letter  from  Mrs  Josephine  Butler,  one  of  the  prime 
movers  therein,  will  show : — 

1  "  I  have  read  with  great  pleasure  your  tract, 
"  A  Free  State  and  Free  Medicine,"  and  thank  you 
with  all  my  heart  for  your  words.  I  wish  we  could 
have  the  pages  relating  to  the  C.D.  Acts  reprinted 
alone  for  our  present  purpose  :  they  are  so  forcible. 

'  Yes,  you  say  truly,  our  reasons  for  opposing 
the  Acts  are  reasons  of  fire  which  will  burn  up  any 
House  of  Commons  which  has  not  its  legislation 
founded  on  a  rock. 

" 1  see  the  movement  is  beginning  which  I  have 
long  anticipated  among  the  women  of  France.  I 
should  like  to  go  over  and  help  them — to  build 
barricades,  if  need  be,  and  to  roast  alive  in  the 
Tuilerie  Gardens  the  Inspectors  of  Women,  with 
their  implements,  as  the  Women  of  the  Great  Revolu- 
tion roasted  Lafayette's  horse  !  .  .  . 

"  I  wish  I  could  tell  you  what  I  have  lately  seen 

1  Letter  from  Mrs  Josephine  Butler,  April  24,  ?  1871. 


HOMOEOPATHY  281 

and  heard  in  Kent.  I  want  to  tell  some  good  doctor 
what  the  women  tell  me  of  their  bodily  sufferings." 

An  old  friend  and  patient,  Francis  W.  Newman, 
the  brother  of  the  Cardinal,  also  wrote,  in  the  follow- 
ing terms  : — 

1  "  Your  pamphlet  on  '  Introspection,  etc.,'  reached 
me  as  I  was  starting  for  Manchester,  to  take  part 
in  meetings  against  this  very  matter  and  against 
Compulsory  Vaccination.  I  read  it  in  the  train. 
On  my  return  home,  after  staying  with  friends  in 
two  places,  I  found  on  my  table  your  liberal  parcel 
of  twenty-five  copies  of  the  same  pamphlet.  My 
problem  now  is,  how  to  distribute  them  judiciously. 
.  .  .  But  my  immediate  business  is  to  express  my 
thanks  and  my  sense  of  the  value  of  your  brave 
contribution  to  truth,  justice  and  mercy.  As  a 
man  full  grown  in  mind,  you  fearlessly  assume  your 
own  style,  which  is  neither  mine  nor  that  of  any 
other  man,  but  strictly  yours  ;  and,  as  such,  will 
give  material  for  irrelevant  attack  to  those  who 
wince  under  the  severity  of  your  lash.  But,  in  my 
full  belief,  you  vindicate,  by  the  weight  and  fulness 
of  your  matter,  your  right  to  assume  your  own 
manner :  and  when  I  get  over  the  repulsiveness 
of  the  subject  itself  (doubly  repulsive,  when,  with 
words  so  plain,  you  strip  it  of  all  disguise),  I  find 
in  your  treatment  a  lyrical  and  prophetic  grandeur. 
Omitting  here  and  there  words  which  are  not  really 

1  Letter  from  Mr  F.  W.  Newman,  July  3, 1870. 


JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

needed,  I  have  read  out  long  portions  to  ladies, 
and  find  that  they  are  felt  to  be  beautiful  as  well 
as  noble  and  valuable.  My  taste  does  require 
omissions  of  words  which,  nevertheless,  may  the 
better  stab  the  dull  senses  of  medical  men  stupefied 
by  materialism.  ...  I  find  it  hard  to  estimate 
conjecturally  whether  your  style  will  more  entice 
or  repel :  for  I  think  that  different  men  will  be 
differently  affected.  But  in  my  own  name  I  heartily 
thank  you  for  fulfilling  a  painful  task  with  vigour 
and  faithfulness  so  unshrinking,  and  with  a  spirit 
of  holiness  which  I  hope  will  be  diffusive.  ...  I 
read  two  passages  of  your  pamphlet  to  the  Manchester 
meeting  against  the  C.D.  Acts." 

It  will  be  remembered  that  the  question  of  the 
repeal  of  these  acts  was  fiercely  agitated  and  as 
fiercely  opposed.  A  Royal  Commission  was  appointed 
in  1871 ;  a  Special  Commission  was  appointed  in 
1879.  Though  the  majority  of  both  reported  in 
favour  of  a  continuance  of  the  Acts,  a  majority 
of  the  House  of  Commons  condemned  the  principles 
of  them  in  1883,  and  the  Acts  themselves  were 
repealed  in  1886. 

There  are  few  things  less  profitable  than  tracing 
movements  through  old  controversies.  The  bitter- 
ness and  misunderstanding  on  both  sides  are  pain- 
fully apparent.  As  the  footsteps  crush  the  old 
ashes,  the  dust  of  such  things  is  ungrateful  and 
distressing ;  the  generous  heat  which  once  brought 


HOMOEOPATHY  283 

them  about  has  died  away  with  the  brains  and  hearts 
which  evoked  it.  The  student  is  tempted  to  think 
that  the  world  would  have  been  none  the  worse 
had  neither  fire  nor  ashes  ever  been.  But  it  is  in  such 
struggles  that  character  is  educated  and  displayed ; 
and  to  have  faced  unpopularity  and  disapproval 
for  the  sake  of  right,  to  have  carried  opposition 
on  questions  of  principle  through  the  evil  days  to 
success,  is  a  discipline  which  strengthens  and  ennobles 
the  man  who  has  experienced  it. 

Few  will  be  found  to  share  Wilkinson's  judgment 
in  all  the  controversies  in  which  he  engaged,  but 
still  fewer  will  fail  to  see  in  him  a  clean  and  a  hard 
fighter,  ever  actuated  by  fear  of  wrong  and  love 
of  right.  To  those  who  saw  him  most  clearly  he 
was  revealed  as  most  loving  and  universally  bene- 
volent. His  attacks  upon  what  he  thought  evil 
were  tremendous  and  unsparing  ;  his  spirit  of  humble 
brotherhood  to  erring  humanity  was  an  essential 
part  of  his  practical  religion. 


CHAPTER  IV 

APPRECIATIONS 

THIS  chapter  is  devoted  to  estimations  of  Garth 
Wilkinson's  character  and  work  from  divers  pens. 
It  contains,  however,  no  letters  addressed  to  him- 
self. When  Bos  well  "  presumed  to  animadvert "  on 
Johnson's  eulogy  of  Garrick  in  the  "  Lives  of  the 
Poets,"  Samuel  defended  himself  by  saying,  "  Why, 
sir,  some  exaggeration  must  be  allowed " ;  and, 
by  a  parity  of  postulation,  it  is  scarcely  fair  to 
expose  the  words  of  one  who  acknowledges  a 
presentation  copy  to  cold  print  after  the  lapse  of 
years. 

Robert  Matheson,  who  himself  wrote  books  too 
little  known,  under  the  pseudonym  of  "  Corvichen," 
engaged  for  years  in  an  intimate  and  candid  corre- 
spondence with  Garth  Wilkinson.  He  wrote,  on 
hearing  of  his  friend's  death : — l 

"  I  had  been  thinking,  some  days  before  I  received 
your  note,  of  the  Grand  Old  Man,  and  a  vague  feeling 
arose  in  me  that  he  was  away.  Then  I  naturally 
thought  of  his  wonderful  vigour  and  his  other  great 
qualities — hardly  a  man  like  him  anywhere.  And 

1  Letter  to  Miss  Florence  Pertz,  December  1,  1899. 


284 


APPRECIATIONS  285 

so  here  is  yet  another  Book  published  three  days 
before  his  death ! 

"  I  have  often  tried  to  understand  him,  but  always 
felt  myself  foiled  in  the  attempt ;  but  one  thing 
was  and  remains  clear — that  he  was  a  prophet, 
or  National  Teacher,  by  character  and  calling. 
Two  very  necessary  characteristics  of  a  prophet 
seemed  strong  in  him — heroic  indignation  and 
tenderness. 

"  No  doubt  he  was  widely  known ;  but  it  is 
astonishing  how  comparatively  few  know  about 
him.  The  worse  for  them !  Prophets  are  not 
popular  characters." 

An  old  medical  friend,  upon  the  same  occasion, 
wrote  as  follows  : — 

"  I  had  the  greatest  possible  admiration  for 
Dr  Wilkinson.  I  used  often  to  say  that  I  considered 
him,  Dr  Martineau  and  Ruskin  the  greatest  masters 
of  lucid,  epigrammatic,  terse,  felicitous  style  in 
writing  English,  then  living ;  and  that  to  those 
three  I  owed  whatever  facility  in  English  composi- 
tion I  possessed.  He  altered  his  style  of  writing 
very  much  in  his  later  publications,  and,  as  I  told 
him,  I  missed  the  felicity,  the  wit  and  fantasy  of 
the  older  style.  He  wrote,  during  his  last  days, 
under  a  deeper  sense  of  obligation  to  the  truths 
which  he  felt  himself  commissioned  to  declare — 
and  with  less  consciousness  of  his  readers  who  could 
be  either  stirred  or  amused  or  excited  by  the  force 


286     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

of  his  picturesque  utterance.  My  knowledge  of 
him  dates  from  about  the  year  1851  or  2,  when  he 
became  the  medical  attendant  of  my  father  and 
sister.  I  had  known  him  by  repute  before  that, 
as  a  friend  also  of  my  uncle,  Dr  Morell,  and  as  a 
translator  of  Swedenborg.  After  that,  I  used  often 
to  see  him,  and  always  felt  instructed  and  inspired 
by  his  conversation. 

"  I  remember  calling  on  him  soon  after  he 
published  his  little  volume  of  inspirational  poems, 
and  he  told  me  how  he  produced  them — putting 
his  hand  to  paper  and  accepting  any  suggestion 
that  rose  in  his  mind.  '  I  will  see  what  comes  to 
my  hand  about  you,'  he  said ;  and  as  soon  as  his 
hand  rested  on  the  paper,  he  said  :  '  The  first  words 
are  he  stands,'  and  then  the  two  following  verses 
followed  : — 

He  stands  upon  a  hill  of  green, 
Where  flowers  are  rare  and  sad ; 
But  brighter  things  are  near  him  seen 
And  things  to  make  him  glad. 

The  sky  hath  openings  when  the  earth 
Hath  closed  her  to  some  (?)  drear : 
Then  gird  thyself  for  spirit  birth, 
And  choke  the  snakes  of  fear. 

"These  verses  accurately  reflected  the  rather 
sad  and  sombre  tinge  of  my  mood  and  experiences 
at  that  time. 

"  I  think  your  grandfather  was  a  little  disappointed 


APPRECIATIONS  287 

in  me  because  I  did  not  sufficiently  enter  into  all 
his  theological  and  philosophical  teachings.  In  fact, 
I  found  it  rather  difficult  to  do  so  :  as  he  grew  older, 
if  his  thoughts  grew  deeper  and  more  solemn,  they 
also  became  to  me  less  distinct.  I  could  not  follow 
their  track  at  all  times  :  and,  when  I  did,  I  often 
felt  dissent.  ...  In  fact  I  thought  that  the  dear 
and  venerable  old  Doctor  was  just  a  little  intolerant, 
and  standing  aloof  from  some  of  the  best  tendencies 
of  the  time.  But  he  was  one  of  the  grandest  men 
I  ever  knew,  and  I  shall  always  look  back  upon  my 
friendship  with  him  with  pride  and  delight.  I  do 
not  think  Emerson's  well-known  eulogy  was  at  all 
exaggerated." 

In  Volume  III.  of  a  New  Series  of  The  University 
Magazine  there  appeared  a  course  of  "  Contemporary 
Portraits  "  of  the  eighteenth,  of  which  Wilkinson 
was  the  subject.  This  "portrait,"  which  was 
unsigned,  appeared  in  the  number  for  June  1879. 
As  the  most  thorough  examination  of  Wilkinson's 
work  with  which  we  are  acquainted,  extracts  from 
it  will  be  interesting,  but  it  must  be  borne  in  mind 
that  the  estimation  appeared  full  twenty  years 
before  that  work  was  completed. 

"  Some  there  are  who  have  burning  things  to  say, 
and,  avoiding  the  pitfalls  that  attend  upon  con- 
troversy, content  themselves  with  saying  their 
say,  and,  instead  of  bringing  it  by  strenuous  dis- 
semination before  the  general  public,  bequeath 


288     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

it  to  such  as  may  be  sympathisers,  and  leave  it  to 
make  its  way  abroad  in  due  time  through  its  own 
force  and  vehemence.  They  are  glad  to  do  without 
the  sweets  and  sufferings,  the  perils  and  powers 
of  modern  notoriety,  and  to  follow  in  the  road  of 
the  philosophers  of  old  time,  who  spoke  only  to  such 
as  had  ears. 

"  The  subject  of  the  present  sketch  is  known  in 
one  way  or  other  to  most  of  the  bearers  of  the  best- 
known  names  amongst  us.  In  Mudie's  Library 
there  are  probably  next  to  no  copies  of  any  of  his 
works ;  we  do  not  remember  to  have  seen  him 
reviewed  in  either  the  Daily  Telegraph  or  the  Saturday 
Review ;  his  books  seem  never  to  be  advertised 
in  the  usual  channels ;  but  if  such  as  Carlyie, 
Browning,  Tennyson,  Emerson,  Longfellow, 
Hawthorne,  were  to  be  asked  dubiously  about  him 
by  someone  who  should  think  him  obscure,  one 
might  perhaps  have  replied,  '  I  travelled  with  him  ' ; 
another,  '  He  was  a  friend  of  my  youth  ' ;  another, 
c  We  have  had  long  arguments  together  ' ;  a  fourth, 
'  I  have  taken  his  medicine  ' ;  a  fifth,  '  When  I  was 
once  in  great  doubt,  I  drew  much  from  him.' 

"  Without  advertisement,  our  author's  books 
find  a  public,  and  some  to  the  extent  of  several 
editions.  He  has  too  broad  and  varied  a  field  of 
work  to  be  sectarian,  but  so  far  as  he  may  go  by 
that  name,  it  is  in  connection  with  what  is  called 
the  New  Church,  a  body  holding  by  the  traditions 


APPRECIATIONS  289 

as  interpreted  by  Swedenborg.  This  little  Church 
contains  a  large  proportion  of  men  who  move  in 
higher  realms  of  thought  than  the  members  of  most 
other  sects,  and  no  doubt  the  works  of  so  large  a 
thinker  as  Dr  Wilkinson  are  especially  esteemed 
among  them.  .  .  . 

"  At  this  early  period  of  his  life  Dr  Wilkinson 
showed  that  predilection  for  principles,  whether 
as  forming  the  basis  of  philosophy,  or  the  guidance 
of  physical  research,  which  has  shown  itself  so 
strongly  in  his  later  writings,  and,  coupled  with  the 
originality  of  his  nature  and  force  of  his  sympathies, 
has  made  him  rather  a  religious  political  economist, 
than  either  a  medical  specialist  or  a  Swedenborgian 
— long  and  ardently  though  he  has  dwelt  upon  the 
works  of  the  Swedish  seer.  .  .  . 

'  The  generality  so  prefer  the  trivial  to  the  re- 
condite that  it  is  probable  that  the  subjects  upon 
which  Dr  Wilkinson  has  chosen  to  discourse  have 
prevented  his  having  due  literary  recognition  as 
a  master  of  English  prose.  The  following,  from 
his  introduction  to  the  'Economy  of  the  Animal 
Kingdom,'  may  serve  as  a  specimen  of  his  style. 

" '  Accordingly  he  (Swedenborg)  gives  no  bond 
to  reconstruct  society,  nor  professes  to  be  able  to 
drag  the  secrets  of  truth  into  day  by  an  unerring 
or  mechanical  method;  but  having  obtained  a 
sufficiency  of  doctrinal  implements  for  present  use, 
and  mindful  that  active  life  is  the  best  lot  of  man 


290     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

and  the  finest  means  of  improvement,  he  builds  such 
an  edifice  as  his  materials  and  opportunities  permit, 
and  arrives  at  such  an  end  as  a  good  man  may  be 
satisfied  with.  The  perfecting  of  instruments  he 
knows  must  be  successive,  but  that  the  use  of  them 
must  not  be  postponed,  and  therefore  he  lays  out 
his  possessions  to  the  best  advantage,  in  the  con- 
fidence that  this  is  the  truest  way  to  benefit  posterity.' 

"  The  following  passages  from  the  same  work 
will  instance  both  philosophy  and  style  : — 

"  '  Reason  is  as  the  hand  of  man,  but  imagination 
is  the  palpus  or  tenaculum  of  human  nature.  Reason 
beholds  the  same  surfaces  as  imagination,  only  it 
does  not  stop  with  the  surface,  but  penetrates  to 
the  form  and  mechanism  underlying  the  colour  and 
shape  of  the  object,  being  in  fact  that  power  which 
acknowledges  the  intrinsic  solidity  of  nature. 

"  'Great  confusion  has  undoubtedly  been  introduced 
by  regarding  body  as  the  same  with  matter.  For 
body  is  the  necessary  ultimatum  of  each  plane 
of  creation,  and  thus  there  is  a  spiritual  body  as  well 
as  a  natural  body,  and  by  parity  of  fact,  there  is  a 
spiritual  world  as  well  as  a  natural  world :  but 
matter  is  limited  to  the  lowest  plane,  where  alone 
it  is  identical  with  body.  There  is  no  matter  in  the 
spiritual  world,  but  there  is  body  notwithstanding, 
or  an  ultimate  form,  which  is  less  living  than  the 
interior  forms ;  which  is  the  solid  in  relation 
to  the  fluid,  the  fibre  and  the  skin  and  the  mem- 


APPRECIATIONS 

brane  relatively  to  the  living  blood  in  its  natural 
degrees. 

"  '  It  is  wrong  therefore  to  attempt  to  transcend 
the  fact  of  embodiment ;  the  hope  is  mistaken 
that  would  lead  us  to  endeavour  thus  after  pure 
spirituality.  The  way  to  the  pure  spiritual  is  the 
moral,  and  the  moral  delights  to  exhibit  itself  in 
actions,  and  body  is  the  theatre  of  actions,  and 
by  consequence  the  mirror  and  continent  of  the 
spiritual.  .  .  .' 

"  A  large  portion  of  Dr  Wilkinson's  later  writings 
is  devoted  to  special  topics,  and  seems  to  arise  out 
of  a  consciousness  on  his  part  that  the  public  requires 
protection  against  specialism  of  all  kinds,  which  is 
apt  to  become  despotism.    Society  at  large  is  prone 
to  deride  such  chivalrous  championship  as  chimerical, 
and  to  trust  blindly  in  the  virtues  of  a  majority, 
and  the  practical  unimpeachableness  of  things  as 
they  are.    But  Dr  Wilkinson  looks  deeper  and  sees 
wickedness  to  the  poor  and  oppression  of  the  weak, 
in  the   unquestioned   action   of   powerful   legalized 
cliques.    As  poor   humanity  was   once  overridden 
by  priesthood,  he  appears  to  think  it  is  in  danger 
of  being  subjected  to  an  equal  tyranny  from  the 
high-priests  of  medical  orthodoxy.    There  no  doubt 
is  a  tendency  to  make  certain  questions  "  strictly 
professional,"    and   to   shut  out  from  general  un- 
professional  humanity   any  right    of    forming    an 
opinion  upon  important  matters  in  regard  to  which 


292     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

professional  opinion  insists  upon  being  implicitly 
accepted  as  final.  As  a  matter  of  principle,  Dr 
Wilkinson  is  right,  and  he  and  his  followers  ought 
to  be  welcomed  as  the  protectors  of  lazy  and  ignorant 
humanity.  The  majority  of  us  have  been  vaccinated 
at  an  age  when  we  were  too  young  to  rebel ;  we  are 
not  of  the  class  that  is  subjected  to  forcible  intro- 
spection ;  nor  do  we  belong  to  the  ranks  of  animals 
used  for  vivisection ;  we  are  consequently  inclined 
to  leave  such  matters  alone,  as  pot  affecting 
ourselves : — 

"  Let  the  galled  jade  wince,  our  withers  are 
un wrung.  In  politics  alone  we  admit  a  majority  to 
honour,  and  that  perhaps  only  in  proportion  to  its 
size.  In  matters  that  have  to  do  with  our  bodies,  we 
are  wont  to  take  refuge  in  blind  faith,  or  equally  blind 
distrust,  in  what  is  prescribed  for  us.  Dr  Wilkinson 
sees  danger  in  such  conventional  acceptance,  and 
finds  in  the  governmental  medical  regime  under 
which  we  live,  the  same  principle  in  action  as 
Le  Sage  saw  in  Dr  Sangrado,  the  Hippocrates  of 
Valladolid.  .  .  . 

"This  subject  (compulsory  vaccination)  has 
aroused  Dr  Wilkinson  to  most  unphilosophical 
wrath.  We  are  so  accustomed  nowadays  to  writings 
from  which  feeling  is  eliminated,  and  which  have 
a  cold,  and,  so  to  speak,  heartless  regard  to  facts, 
that  Dr  Wilkinson  must  no  doubt  to  many  seem 
over-impetuous  and  lost  in  his  own  indignation. 


APPRECIATIONS  293 

The  intellect  by  itself,  when  applied  to  the  great 
problems  of  the  world,  and  finding  them  hard  to 
solve,  is  apt  to  become  callous,  and,  leaving  them 
alone,  to  busy  itself  with  what  it  imagines  it  knows 
with  certainty.  We  ought  to  be  grateful  to  Dr 
Wilkinson  for  refusing  to  ignore  even  minor  questions, 
or  to  treat  them  in  any  but  the  largest  public  light* 
In  his  philosophy,  human  life  is  integral,  and  to  be 
reverenced  in  all  its  details,  not  for  the  sake  of 
the  details,  but  for  the  sacredness  of  the  whole. 
Certain  evils  and  compromises,  despotisms  of  pro- 
fessional trades -unions,  and  callousness  of  licensed 
power,  which  press  most  heavily  upon  the  poor, 
the  weak  and  the  obscure  members  of  society,  excite 
his  indignation,  as  being  violations  of  humanity. 
If  he  should  found  a  school,  it  will  be  of  those  who 
are  practical  because  they  are  first  spiritual ;  and 
it  may  be  found  that  the  most  consistently,  minutely 
and  intensely  practical  will  be  those  whose  percep- 
tions are  made  keen  and  sensitive  by  marking  the 
workings  of  spiritual  laws,  whereby  the  degradations 
of  daily  life  impress  the  more  distinctly,  and  stimulate 
them  to  a  more  earnest  passion  of  effort  to  find 
the  remedy.  But  to  the  sensual  and  slothful,  the 
superficial  and  the  selfish,  it  will  at  all  times  be 
difficult  to  distinguish  the  heightened  insight  and 
loving  passion  from  fanaticism." 

In  The  Letters  of  Dante  Gabriel  Rosetti,  edited  by 
Dr  George  Birkbeck  Hill  (page  201),  we  have  an 


294     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

interesting    glimpse    of   Garth   Wilkinson.     Rosetti 
wrote  to  Mr  Allingham  [near  the  end  of  1862]. 

"  You  will  remember  my  troubling  you  once  or 
twice  about  that  Bogie  poem  book  of  Wilkinson's. 
I  am  wanting  it  now  to  mention  in  a  passage  on 
Blake's  poetry  which  I  am  writing  for  the  Life 
never  quite  completed.  Could  you  kindly  let  me 
have  the  loan  of  yours  as  soon  as  you  can." 

A  note  adds  : — 

"  *  That  Bogie  poem '  was  Improvisations  from  the 
Spirit  by  Dr  J.  Garth  Wilkinson,  the  homceopathist 
who  was  Miss  Siddal's  physician  in  1854.  Hawthorne, 
whose  children  he  attended  in  December  1857, 
wrote  of  him  : — '  He  is  a  homoeopathist,  and  is  known 
in  scientific  and  general  literature ;  at  all  events, 
a  sensible  and  enlightened  man,  with  an  un-English 
freedom  of  mind  on  some  points.  For  example, 
he  is  a  Swedenborgian  and  a  believer  in  modern 
Spiritualism.  He  showed  me  some  drawings  that 
had  been  made  under  the  spiritual  influence  by  a 
miniature  painter  who  possesses  no  imaginative 
power  of  his  own,  and  is  merely  a  good  mechanical 
and  liberal  copyist ;  but  these  drawings,  represent- 
ing angels  and  allegorical  people  were  done  by  an 
influence  which  directed  the  artistic  hand,  he  not 
knowing  what  his  next  touch  would  be,  nor  what 
the  final  result.'  .  .  .  According  to  W.  B.  Scott, 
6  Emerson  said,  "  Wilkinson  was  most  like  Bacon  of 
all  men  living."'  Scott  adds  that  'Wilkinson  was 


APPRECIATIONS  295 

as  tall  and  as  straight  as  a  spear,  and  looked  steadily 
at  you  from  behind  his  spectacles  as  if  he  saw  your 
thoughts  as  distinctly  as  your  nose,  while  Tennyson 
cared  little  and  noted  little  of  either.' ' 

We  conclude  our  account  of  Garth  Wilkinson  with 
three  extracts  from  obituary  notices  which  closely 
followed  his  death.  A 

From  the  New  Church  Magazine,  November  1879. 

"  He  was  one  of  the  most  useful  and  ardent 
members  of  the  Swedenborg  Society.  In  the 
Society's  rooms  there  is  both  a  bust  and  a  portrait 
of  him.  Kindly  and  genial,  he  won  the  affections 
of  others.  Keen  in  perception,  he  possessed  a 
fluency  enjoyed  by  very  few.  His  later  literary 
style  was,  in  the  opinion  of  some,  a  little  too  classic 
and  ornate  for  modern  taste,  but  none  can  doubt 
the  vigour  of  his  writing  or  the  brilliancy  of  his 
illustrative  power. 

"  Students  of  the  human  body  not  unfre- 
quently  become  materialists  or  agnostics.  With 
Dr  Wilkinson  the  perception  of  spiritual  realities 
was  as  a  fire  to  his  bones.  His  *  Human  Body 
and  its  Connection  with  Man '  is  one  of  the  most 
vigorous  pleas  we  know  for  the  recognition  of  the 
spiritual  nature  of  man. 

6  When  we  remember  that  his  literary  work  was 
done  in  the  leisure  left  from  the  active  and  onerous 
duties  of  his  profession,  it  is  clear  that  he  must  have 
been  surpassingly  industrious.  .  .  . 


296     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

"  His  influence  has  been  widely  felt ;  not  only 
in  the  New  Church  but  throughout  the  literary  and 
philosophical  world.  An  able  physician,  a  clear 
thinker,  an  original  and  exceedingly  industrious 
writer,  he  had  won  the  respect  and  affection  of  all 
who  knew  him,  and  of  many  more  who  had  not  been 
privileged  to  enjoy  personal  intercourse  with  him. 
It  would  be  wrong  for  us  to  grieve  over-much,  for 
we  know  that  his  profound  convictions  about  the 
spiritual  life  are  now  being  verified  by  him,  and  he 
will  have  the  reward  of  the  good  works  that  follow 
a  life  industrious,  full  of  zeal  for  the  truth  and  earnest, 
self-sacrificing  labour  for  the  spiritual  advancement 
of  the  world.  EDITOR." 

From  the  New  Church  Review,  January  1900. 

In  a  review  of  "  Isis  and  Osiris,"  under  the  title 
of  "  Dr  Wilkinson's  Last  Book." 

.  .  .  In  his  dedicatory  letter  to  Professor 
Wiedemann,  of  the  University  of  Bonn,  our  author 
affirms,  '  I  have  been  inclined  to  give  my  book  the 
additional  name  of  a  Tract  for  the  Times  ' — a  tract, 
we  may  suppose,  for  '  these  vivisecting  heathen 
times  '  to  borrow  a  very  Wilkinsonian  phrase  found 
on  one  of  the  last  pages  in  the  volume.  And  surely 
it  is  a  noble  and  timely  appeal  to  the  present  genera- 
tion, with  dead  ritual  within  the  Church,  and  dead 
materialism  both  within  and  without,  to  open  the 
lungs  of  intelligence  to  the  Breath  of  the  Lord  of 


APPRECIATIONS  297 

Life.  What  we  stand  in  need  of  to-day  is  a 
quickened  sense  of  the  Lord's  presence  as  the  life 
of  this  Universe  and  the  soul  of  His  Church.  Dr 
Wilkinson's  farewell  word  comes  as  an  inspiration 
to  a  higher  faith  and  larger  trust.  And  now,  having 
finished  his  work  on  earth,  it  is  pleasant  to  think 
of  his  great  and  magnanimous  soul  in  the  fuller 
atmosphere  of  heavenly  planes,  where  the  Book 
of  Respirations  is  open  as  the  Book  of  the  Lord's 
Life,  and  all  the  inhabitants  are  living  breaths, 
animate  with  a  divine  influx. 

"  Coming  of  an  old  Durham  family,  Dr  Wilkinson 
had  many  of  the  rugged  North  of  England  qualities, 
among  them  the  gift  of  laconic  and  vigorous  speech. 
He  has  often  reminded  his  readers  of  Carlyle,  and 
Emerson  likened  his  rhetoric  to  c  the  armoury  of 
the  invincible  knights  of  old.'  It  is  not  easy, 
however,  for  everyone  to  read  him.  Many  years 
ago,  when  'The  Human  Body  and  its  Connection 
with  Man  '  was  published,  Professor  Bush  praised 
the  substance,  but  criticized  what  seemed  to  him 
the  difficult  and  affected  style.  As  a  matter  of  fact, 
the  book  grew  out  of  conversations  which  the  author 
had  with  the  late  Henry  James,  who  was  then  living 
in  London,  not  far  from  the  Doctor's  office.  A 
physician's  life  is  exacting,  and  does  not  favour 
long  periods  of  quiet  composition  and  revision. 
The  author  of  *  The  Human  Body  '  and  its  numerous 
successors,  thought  out  between  times  the  manifold 


298     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

points  that  commanded  him  and  jotted  them  down 
at  odd  moments  of  leisure.  This  professional  handi- 
cap, limiting  his  time  of  utterance,  no  doubt  is  largely 
responsible  for  the  oracular  character  of  many  of 
his  statements.  Dr  Wilkinson  was  simply  surcharged 
with  the  thought  that  was  in  him.  Mr  James 
complained  that  Emerson's  private  thought  and 
conversation  were  incomparably  inferior  to  his 
public  utterances.  Dr  Wilkinson  exhibited  most 
markedly  the  opposite  trait.  His  personality  was 
inspiring,  and  his  private  utterances  on  high  themes 
were  crammed  with  vital  meaning,  and  wore  a 
drapery  of  language  that  no  polish  of  revision  could 
make  more  fit  or  graceful.  To  those  who  have 
enjoyed  this  conversation,  his  books  seem  like  the 
recurrence  of  personal  visits. 

"The  reader  will  get  most  from  Dr  Wilkinson's 
writings  by  reading  them  leisurely,  and  taking 
their  thoughts  as  hints.  The  ideas  are  given  as 
suggestions,  and  stimulate  the  reader  to  individual 
mental  activity.  There  is  a  unity  through  all 
these  notes  and  comments,  dealing  with  apparently 
scattered  topics,  but  the  unity  is  not  of  literary 
form  and  consistency,  but  of  honest  devotion  to 
truth  and  unimpeachable  perception  of  spiritual 
and  divine  verities. 

"  As  a  secular  and  lay  student  of  spiritual  things, 
Dr  Wilkinson's  work  is  of  unique  value  to  the  church. 
He  had  no  cheap  antipathies  to  6  ecclesiasticism,' 


APPRECIATIONS  299 

although  he  kept  aloof  from  organizations.  He 
pursued  his  studies  and  lived  his  life  as  a  private 
English  gentleman,  with  broad  sympathies  with 
his  time  and  wide  knowledge  of  the  international 
world.  Most  of  our  New  Church  writers  become 
accustomed  to  accommodating  themselves  to  the 
state  of  mind  of  those  who  are  supposed  to  know 
comparatively  little  of  spiritual  truth.  Hence  we 
rarely  have  the  expression  of  thought  that  is  the 
full  measure  of  the  mind.  Our  writers  and  speakers 
are  tethered  by  their  avocation.  Dr  Wilkinson 
writes  neither  professionally  nor  professorially.  His 
mind  strikes  out  to  utter  itself,  and  not  to  come 
down  to  primary  school  demonstration.  His  books 
are  the  true  expressions  of  the  best  reaches  of  his 
own  mind.  Hence  the  deepest  student  finds  them 
virile  and  fecund.  There  is  intellectual  exhilaration 
in  understanding  them,  and  their  originality  and 
vitality  make  it  impossible  to  skip  them." 

A  notice  of  Garth  Wilkinson's  death  appeared 
in  the  Daily  News.  Our  extract  betrays  the 
practised  and  sympathetic  hand  of  a  dearly 
esteemed  friend. 

"  Emerson's  description  of  him  as  a  c  startling 
re-appearance  of  Swedenbo^g  after  a  hundred  years  * 
had  a  certain  literal  significance.  His  mind  was  of 
exactly  the  same  cast.  It  naturally  and  without 
effort,  saw  in  every  external  fact  only  an  inner 
spiritual  significance.  Phenomena,  in  their  merely 


300     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 

physical  relations,  seemed  absolutely  meaningless 
to  him,  and  he  moved  amid  ideas  with  a  certainty 
that  might  have  been  envied  by  the  most  convinced 
materialist  in  his  grasp  of  the  ordinary  facts  of  life. 
He  was  one  of  those  born  to  believe.  Personally 
he  was  a  man  of  the  sweetest  and  most  winning  nature 
and  the  gentlest  disposition.  He  had  survived 
nearly  all  his  most  eminent  contemporaries,  and, 
but  for  the  care  with  which  he  was  tended  to  the 
last  by  his  own  family,  there  would  have  been 
something  of  pathos  in  the  solitude  of  his  old  age." 


INDEX 


ADAM  and  Eve,  clothing  of,  215 
America,  impressions  of,  110 
Animal  magnetism,  32,  40,  43,  74 
Augustine,  St,  172 

BACON,  Francis,  181 

Berkeleyism,  190 

Blake,  William,  25-31 

edition  of  Songs  of  Innocence, 

etc.,  23 

Bright,  Mr  John,  269 
British  Museum,  22 
Browning,  Robert,  sen.,  32 
Browning,  Robert,  jun.,  31,  206, 

288 
Butler,  Mrs  Josephine,  112,  280 

CARLYLE,  Thomas,  33-38,  86,  205, 

288 

Catholicity,  239 
Clissold,  Rev.  A.,  238 
Coleridge,  S.  T.,  41 
Commerce,  221 
Contagious  Diseases  (Women)  Act, 

112,  264,  279-282 
Correspondences,  the  doctrine  of } 

211,  235,  255 
Crowds,  212 
Cycling  for  women,  259 

DARWIN,  functions  of,  241 
Depression,  mental,  215 
Diary  of  Swedenborg,  169, 196 
Duties,  humble,  231 

EARTHQUAKES,  214 

Editions,  by  J.  J.  G.  W.,  of 
Blake's  Songs  of  Innocence,  etc., 
25-31  ;  of  Brereton's  One 
Teacher,  One  Law,  121 ;  of 
Swedenborg's  Doctrine  of 


Charity,    23 ;     Opuscula,     46 ; 
(Economia  Regni  Animalis,  46 
Emerson,   R.  W.,   50,    143,    150, 
153,  173,  203,  237,  288,  298 

FARCINB,  262 

Fiction,  242 

Fourier,  53-58,  226,  227 

Franco-Prussian  War,  113 

GLANDBRINE,  262 

HARRIS,  Thomas  Lake,  102, 103 
Hawthorne,  Nathaniel,  288,  294 
Hekla  Lava,  262 
Hell,  torments  of,  227 
Hjaltin,  I.  A.,  85,  134 
Homoeopathy,    16,  79,   243-263; 

doctrine  of  correspondences  in, 

256,  258,  259 
Hypnotism,  74 

INCARNATION,  doctrine  of  The,  155 
"Infallibility"    of    Swedenborg, 

160 

Influx,  240,  241 
Intelligence,  worship  of,  208 

JAMES,  Henry,  sen.,  41 

LECTURES,      The     Grouping     o 
Animals,  45  ;  Science  for  A 
47  ;  Physics  of  Human  Nature, 
66-73  ;  Our  Social  Health,  104 

Lewis,    Mrs    G.     H.    ("George 
Eliot"),  103 

Livingstone,  Dr,  239 

Longfellow,  110,  288 

MACREADT,  32 

Marston,  Dr  Westland,  99,  127 

801 


302     JAMES  JOHN  GARTH  WILKINSON 


Martineau,  Miss  H.,  205 
Matheson,  Mr  R,  284 
Montez,  Lola,  103 

NEW  CHURCH,  Wilkinson's  posi 

tion  toward,  174 
Newman,  Mr  F.  W.,  112,  281 
Norse  languages,  85 
Nourishment,       spiritual       and 

natural,  213 

OLIPHANT,  Lawrence,  102 
Outram,  General,  106 
Owen,  Robert,  64 

PANTHEISM,  226 
Paris  in  1848,  58-64 
Patmore,  Mr  Coventry,  206 

REED,  Mr  Sampson,  205,  209 
Revelations,  successive,  130,  223 
Robinson,  W.  Crabb,  52 
Rosetti,  D.  G.,  293 
Ruskin,  John,  95,  270 
Rydberg,  Professor  V.,  133,  173 

SCOTT,  Mr  W.  B.,  294 

Silica,  262 

Siljestrom,  Rektor,  85,  271 

Spiritualism,  89 

Spiritual  progress,  understand- 
ing, 229 

Svedborg,  Bishop  Jasper,  128 

Swedenborg,  Emanuel,  Dreams 
of,  169 ;  Diary  of,  169,  196  ; 
writings  of,  233  ;  MSS.  of,  233, 
235  ;  and  matrimony,  235  ;  and 
vivisection,  276  ;  his  chemistry, 
235  ;  translated  into  Icelandic, 
238 

TAFEL,  Professor,  131,  197 

Teetotalism,  79 

Tennant,  Mr  Dillon,  74,  210 

Toasts,  118 

Translations  by  Wilkinson,  from 
Swedish  of  Siljestrom,  120 ; 
from  Latin  of  Swedenborg, 
Doctrine  of  Charity,  22  ;  Last 
Judgment,  23  ;  Fallo'  ~ 


23  ;  Regnum  Animate,  24,  44  ; 
CEconomia  Regni  Animalis,  45, 
201  ;  Posthumous  Tracts,  46, 
Hieroglyphic  Key,  46,  235  ;  Out- 
lines of  a  Philosophical  Argu- 
ment, 46 ;  The  Generative  Organs, 
84,  203  ;  Sapientia  Angelica  de 
Divino  Amore,  122 
Tulk,  Mr  C.  A.,  25,  188,  234 

VACCINATION,  38,  116,  121,  264- 

275 
Vivisection,  121,  264,  296 

WHITEING,   Mr  R.,  242 

Wilkinson,  J.  J.  G.,  birth  and 
family,  1  ;  childhood,  2-13 ; 
schools,  5,  7,  13 ;  apprentice- 
ship, 15  ;  qualifications,  17  ; 
practice,  17,  21,  104,  263;  in- 
troduction to  Swedenborg's 
works,  18  ;  betrothal,  19 ; 
marriage,  39  ;  political  views, 
91  :  tours  in  Norway,  100, 117  ; 
in  Algiers,  104  ;  in  Spain,  105  ; 
in  Germany,  109,  115,  119  ;  in 
Iceland,  109  ;  in  America,  110  ; 
death  of  Mrs  Wilkinson,  124 ; 
personal  appearance,  125,  294  ; 
death,  138 ;  as  a  contro- 
versialist, 283.  See  also  Trans- 
lations and  Works. 

Works,  original,  by  Wilkinson  : 
A  Sketch  of  Swedenborg,  etc., 
39  ;  Remarks  on  Swedenborg '* 
Economy  of  Animal  Kingdom, 
46  ;  Popular  Sketch  of  Sweden- 
borg's  Philosophy,  47  ;  Life  of 
Swedenborg,  76 ;  Human  Body 
and  its  Connection  with  Man, 
80,  182 ;  Painting  vrith  Both 
Hands,  95  ;  Improvisations  from 
the  Spirit,  95-100,  294 ;  Un- 
licensed Medicine,  95  ;  War, 
Cholera,  and  the  Ministry  of 
Health,  93  ;  Use  of  Glanderine, 
etc.,  100;  Homoeopathic  Principle 
applied  to  Insanity,  100  ;  For- 
cible Introspection  of  Women, 
113 ;  A  Free  State  and  Free 


INDEX 


308 


Medicine,  113 ;  Swedenborg's 
Doctrines  and  the  Translation  of 
his  Works,  120;  Pasteur  and 
Jenner,  121  ;  Treatment  of 
Smallpox,  121 ;  Greater  Origins 
and  Issues  of  Life  and  Death, 
122  ;  Medical  Specialism,  122  ; 
Oannes  according  to  Berosus, 

127  ;    The  Soul  is  Form,   etc., 

128  ;    The    African  and   True 


Christian  Religion,  130  ;  Epi- 
demic Man  and  hi-s  Visitations, 
130;  The  Affections  of  Armed 
Powers,  133;  Voluspa,  134; 
Isis  and  Osiris,  137 ;  Sweden- 
borg  among  the  Doctors,  256 
Worlds,  many  inhabited,  218 

YOUNG,  Mr  W.,  271 


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